Bruce Sinofsky

Last updated

Bruce Sinofsky (March 31, 1956 – February 21, 2015) was an American documentary film director, particularly known for his films the Paradise Lost trilogy, Brother's Keeper and Some Kind of Monster , all created with Joe Berlinger.

<i>Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills</i> 1996 film by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky

Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills is a 1996 American documentary film directed, produced and edited by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky about the trials of the West Memphis Three, three teenage boys accused of the May 1993 murders and sexual mutilation of three prepubescent boys as a part of an alleged satanic ritual in West Memphis, Arkansas.

Brother's Keeper is a 1992 documentary directed by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky. The film is about an alleged 1990 murder in the village of Munnsville, New York. The film is in the "Direct Cinema" style of the Maysles brothers, who had formerly employed Berlinger and Sinofsky.

<i>Some Kind of Monster</i> (film) 2004 film by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky

Some Kind of Monster is a 2004 American documentary film featuring the American thrash metal band Metallica. It shares its name with the song "Some Kind of Monster" from Metallica's 2003 album St. Anger. The film shows many studio rehearsals and fragments of concert footage. It won the Independent Spirit Award for Best Documentary Feature. The DVD release was handled by Paramount Home Entertainment. Metallica re-released the film, including a bonus documentary, in 2014 to celebrate its 10th anniversary.


Early life and education

Sinofsky was born to a Jewish family [1] in Boston, Massachusetts. He graduated from the Tisch School of the Arts of New York University in 1978. [2]

American Jews, or Jewish Americans, are Americans who are Jews, whether by religion, ethnicity or nationality. The current Jewish community in the United States consists primarily of Ashkenazi Jews, who descend from diaspora Jewish populations of Central and Eastern Europe and comprise about 90-95% of the American Jewish population. Most American Ashkenazim are US-born, with a dwindling number of now elderly earlier immigrants, as well as some more recent foreign-born immigrants.

Boston Capital city of Massachusetts, United States

Boston is the capital and most populous city of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the United States. The city proper covers 48 square miles (124 km2) with an estimated population of 685,094 in 2017, making it also the most populous city in New England. Boston is the seat of Suffolk County as well, although the county government was disbanded on July 1, 1999. The city is the economic and cultural anchor of a substantially larger metropolitan area known as Greater Boston, a metropolitan statistical area (MSA) home to a census-estimated 4.8 million people in 2016 and ranking as the tenth-largest such area in the country. As a combined statistical area (CSA), this wider commuting region is home to some 8.2 million people, making it the sixth-largest in the United States.

Massachusetts State of the United States of America

Massachusetts, officially the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is the most populous state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It borders on the Atlantic Ocean to the east, the states of Connecticut and Rhode Island to the south, New Hampshire and Vermont to the north, and New York to the west. The state is named after the Massachusett tribe, which once inhabited the east side of the area, and is one of the original thirteen states. The capital of Massachusetts is Boston, which is also the most populous city in New England. Over 80% of Massachusetts's population lives in the Greater Boston metropolitan area, a region influential upon American history, academia, and industry. Originally dependent on agriculture, fishing and trade, Massachusetts was transformed into a manufacturing center during the Industrial Revolution. During the 20th century, Massachusetts's economy shifted from manufacturing to services. Modern Massachusetts is a global leader in biotechnology, engineering, higher education, finance, and maritime trade.


Sinofsky began his career at Maysles Films. As Senior Editor at the company, he worked on commercials and feature films until 1991, when he and Joe Berlinger formed their own production company, Creative Thinking International. They jointly produced, edited and directed documentary films which have appeared on over 50 critics choice lists,[ citation needed ] including Brother's Keeper (1992), the Paradise Lost trilogy (1996, 2004, 2011), Hollywood High (2003) and Some Kind of Monster (2004).

Albert and David Maysles American brothers documentary filmmaker duo

Albert and his brother DavidMaysles were an American documentary filmmaking team known for their work in the Direct Cinema style. Their best-known films include Salesman (1969), Gimme Shelter (1970) and Grey Gardens (1975).

Joe Berlinger American documentary filmmaker

Joseph Berlinger is an American filmmaker and producer. Particularly focused on true crime documentaries, Berlinger's films and docu-series draw attention to social justice issues in the US and abroad in such films as Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills, Crude, Whitey: United States of America v. James J. Bulger and Intent To Destroy: Death, Denial and Depiction. A 2017 HuffPost article said "Brother's Keeper (1992) and the Paradise Lost trilogy (1996–2011) helped pioneer the style of documentary filmmaking [seen] in Netflix's recent true crime sensation, Making a Murderer—a combination of artful cinematography, a stirring musical soundtrack, and a dramatic narrative structure as compelling as any scripted film."

The first movie Sinofsky directed, in 1992, was the documentary Brother's Keeper, [3] which tells the story of Delbart Ward, an elderly man in Munnsville, New York, who was charged with second-degree murder following the death of his brother William. Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert, in his review of the movie, called it "an extraordinary documentary about what happened next, as a town banded together to stop what folks saw as a miscarriage of justice." [4]

<i>Chicago Sun-Times</i> newspaper

The Chicago Sun-Times is a daily newspaper published in Chicago, Illinois, United States. It is the flagship paper of the Sun-Times Media Group, with the biggest circulation in Chicago and the 9th of the US.

Roger Ebert American film critic, author, journalist, and TV presenter

Roger Joseph Ebert was an American film critic, historian, journalist, screenwriter, and author. He was a film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times from 1967 until his death in 2013. In 1975, Ebert became the first film critic to win the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism.

The Paradise Lost trilogy chronicles the inhabitants of a small southern town a year after a series of brutal murders, in a style similar to that of award-winning documentary filmmaker Errol Morris.

Errol Morris American filmmaker and writer

Errol Mark Morris is an American film director primarily of documentaries examining and investigating, among other things, authorities and eccentrics. His 1988 documentary The Thin Blue Line, is cited among the best and most influential documentaries ever made. In 2003, his documentary film The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

Sinofsky and Berlinger's work used various styles, including a paean to cinéma vérité. Metallica: Some Kind of Monster covers the heavy metal band Metallica as they participate in group therapy before recording their first album in five years. The pair also made a documentary on the southern record label for blues and country western artists, Sun Records called Good Rockin' Tonight .

Cinéma vérité style of documentary filmmaking

Cinéma vérité is a style of documentary filmmaking, invented by Jean Rouch, inspired by Dziga Vertov's theory about Kino-Pravda and influenced by Robert Flaherty’s films. It combines improvisation with the use of the camera to unveil truth or highlight subjects hidden behind crude reality.

Metallica American heavy metal band

Metallica is an American heavy metal band. The band was formed in 1981 in Los Angeles, California by drummer Lars Ulrich and vocalist/guitarist James Hetfield, and has been based in San Francisco, California for most of its career. The group's fast tempos, instrumentals and aggressive musicianship made them one of the founding "big four" bands of thrash metal, alongside Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer. Metallica's current lineup comprises founding members Hetfield and Ulrich, longtime lead guitarist Kirk Hammett and bassist Robert Trujillo. Guitarist Dave Mustaine and bassists Ron McGovney, Cliff Burton and Jason Newsted are former members of the band.

Death and tributes

Sinofsky died on February 21, 2015 at the age of 58, from diabetes-related complications. [5] [6] The band Metallica paid tribute to him as a "courageous man with deep empathy and wisdom who wasn't afraid to dig deep to tell the story." [6] Berlinger wrote that Sinofsky's "humanity is on every frame of the films that he leaves behind." [6]

The 2016 film Tony Robbins: I Am Not Your Guru [7] is dedicated to his memory.

The 2018 documentary May It Last: A Portrait of the Avett Brothers [8] is also dedicated to his memory.


Sinofsky won a Directors Guild of America Award and two Emmys,[ citation needed ] one for the first film in the Paradise Lost trilogy, The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills . [9] He was nominated for an Academy Award for the third film in the trilogy, Purgatory , in 2011. [6]

See also

Related Research Articles

The Academy Award for Documentary Feature is an award for documentary films. In 1941, the first awards for feature-length documentaries were bestowed as Special Awards to Kukan and Target for Tonight. They have since been bestowed competitively each year, with the exception of 1946.

<i>Paradise Lost 2: Revelations</i> 2000 film by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky

Paradise Lost 2: Revelations is a 2000 American documentary film directed and produced by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky, and the sequel to their 1996 film Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills, about the trials of the West Memphis Three, three teenage boys accused of the May 1993 murders and sexual mutilation of three prepubescent boys as a part of an alleged satanic ritual in West Memphis, Arkansas.

<i>Crumb</i> (film) 1994 documentary film directed by Terry Zwigoff

Crumb is a 1994 documentary film about the noted underground cartoonist Robert Crumb and his family. Directed by Terry Zwigoff and produced by Lynn O'Donnell, it won widespread acclaim. It was released in the USA on April 28, 1995, having been screened at film festivals the previous year. Jeffery M. Anderson placed the film on his list of the ten greatest films of all time, labeling it "the greatest documentary ever made."

<i>Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2</i> 2000 film by Joe Berlingeri

Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 is a 2000 American psychological horror film, directed and co-written by Joe Berlinger and starring Jeffrey Donovan, Stephen Barker Turner, Kim Director, Erica Leerhsen and Tristine Skyler. The film was immediately greenlit upon pitch due to the surprising success of its predecessor, the wildly successful 1999 film The Blair Witch Project. Stylistically different from the first film, the plot revolves around a group of people fascinated by the mythology surrounding The Blair Witch Project film; they go into the Black Hills where the original film was shot, and experience supernatural phenomena and psychological unraveling.

Steve James is an Oscar-nominated American film producer and director of several documentaries, including Hoop Dreams (1994), Stevie (2002), and Abacus: Small Enough to Jail (2016).

<i>One Day in September</i> 1999 documentary by Kevin Macdonald

One Day in September is a 1999 documentary film directed by Kevin Macdonald examining the 5 September 1972 murder of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Germany. Michael Douglas provides the sparse narration throughout the film.

<i>Metallica: This Monster Lives</i> book by Joe Berlinger

Metallica: This Monster Lives is a book written by Joe Berlinger and Greg Milner about how Berlinger filmed the feature-length movie Some Kind of Monster with the legendary heavy metal band Metallica. The book follows the emotional roller-coaster both he and his film partner Bruce Sinofsky and the band Metallica went through during the creation film. The book takes in the time from Berlinger and Sinofsky's first meeting with Metallica in 1999 to the 2003 Summer Sanitarium Tour. Berlinger and Sinofsky's relationship was at an all time low, exacerbated by Berlinger's decision to direct the disastrous sequel to the Blair Witch. At the start of filming the relationship between the band members, especially between vocalist James Hetfield and drummer Lars Ulrich, is in a similarly perilous position after bassist Jason Newsted quit the band and long standing grudges between the remaining members threaten to escalate past the point of no return.

Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky were a team of American documentary filmmakers that have won cult fame and critical acclaim. The duo are probably best known for their trilogy of Paradise Lost films, about the so-called West Memphis Three, and 2004 Metallica documentary Some Kind of Monster. Though they often worked together, Berlinger and Sinofsky have also separately directed their own projects.

<i>Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory</i> 2011 film by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky

Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory is a 2011 American documentary film directed by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky, and sequel to their films Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills (1996) and Paradise Lost 2: Revelations (2000). The three films are about West Memphis Three, three teenage boys accused of the May 1993 murders and sexual mutilation of three prepubescent boys as a part of an alleged satanic ritual in West Memphis, Arkansas. Purgatory offers an update on the case of the West Memphis Three, who were all recognized guilty of the murders in 1994 but kept on claiming their innocence since then, before culminating with the trio's attempt at an Alford plea.

<i>50 Documentaries to See Before You Die</i> television series

50 Documentaries to See Before You Die is a 2011 five-episode television series presented by Morgan Spurlock on the Current TV television network featuring what editors regard as the fifty of the most influential and/or important documentary films from the past 25 years.

<i>West of Memphis</i> 2012 film by Amy J. Berg

West of Memphis is a 2012 New Zealand-American documentary film directed and co-written by Amy J. Berg, produced by Peter Jackson and Damien Echols, and released in the US by Sony Pictures Classics to critical acclaim. It received a nomination for Best Documentary Screenplay from the Writers Guild of America.

<i>Whitey: United States of America v. James J. Bulger</i> 2014 documentary film directed by Joe Berlinger

Whitey: United States of America v. James J. Bulger is a 2014 American biographical documentary film produced and directed by Joe Berlinger. It is produced by CNN Films and Radical Media. Its world premiere was at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival on January 18, 2014.

Elisabeth Holm American film producer

Elisabeth Holm is an American film producer and screenwriter. She produced the 2014 film Obvious Child and was formerly the film program director at Kickstarter.

Kahane Cooperman is an American documentary filmmaker and television director and producer.

<i>Strong Island</i> (film) 2017 documentary film by Yance Ford

Strong Island is a Danish-American 2017 true-crime documentary film directed by Yance Ford. The film centers on the April 1992 murder of Ford's brother William, a 24-year-old African-American teacher in New York, who was killed by Mark P. Reilly, a 19-year-old white chop shop mechanic of Lake Grove, New York. An all-white grand jury in Suffolk County declined to indict his killer, who claimed self-defense.


  1. Bloom, Nate (February 15, 2012). "Jewish Stars: Oscar time". Cleveland Jewish News . Retrieved 8 May 2018.
  2. "NYU Alumnus Mark Bridges Wins Oscar for Best Costume Design for "The Artist"". New York University . 2012-02-27. Retrieved 2012-02-27.
  3. "Brother's Keeper". 9 September 1992. Retrieved 8 May 2018.
  4. Ebert, Roger. "Brother's Keeper Movie Review (1993) | Roger Ebert". Retrieved 2018-06-20.
  5. Emanuella Grinberg. "Director of 'Paradise Lost' trilogy dies". Retrieved 8 May 2018.
  6. 1 2 3 4 The Independent: Bruce Sinofsky dead: Metallica and Paradise Lost documentary director dies aged 58 (accessed 23 February 2015)
  7. "Tony Robbins: I Am Not Your Guru". 15 July 2016. Retrieved 8 May 2018.
  8. "May It Last: A Portrait of the Avett Brothers (2017)". Retrieved 8 May 2018.
  9. LA Times: Bruce Sinofsky dies at 58; Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker (accessed 23 February 2015)