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The Ted Bundy movie wars have taken a dramatic turn. Ahead of the premiere of her film "No Man of God" at the Tribeca Film Festival Friday, director Amber Sealey took to Instagram to post several screenshots of an email sent to her by fellow director Joe Berlinger, who put out two Bundy-related projects in 2019. Amid a public debate about whether some of the recent spate of Bundy films glorified the killer, Berlinger pointedly accused Sealey of tearing down his work to promote her own.
Sealy posted on her Instagram page, writing, “Received this unsolicited email this morning. Thanks for the support, Joe. We have an extra ticket for you to the #NoManOfGod premiere tonight if you’d like to see the movie for yourself and we can discuss more in person openly? Cuz this felt like you were just trying to make me feel s----y right before my screening. Have a great day.”
Sealey ended the post with hashtags #femalefilmmakerfriday #bundyisdivisive.
Starring Elijah Wood as FBI analyst Bill Hagmaier and Luke Kirby as Bundy, "No Man of God" centers around Bundy’s final years on death row and the formative relationship between the pair.
However, it’s far from the first production to portray the murderer. Notably, Berlinger helmed two successful projects in 2019: Netflix’s “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile,” starring Zac Efron, and the documentary “Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes.”
Berlinger, a two-time Emmy award winner and Academy Award nominee, wrote in the email’s subject, “your bashing of my Bundy projects.”
“Forgive the unsolicited advice, but after reading some of your interviews about your Bundy movie, I feel compelled to tell you that tearing down my work to promote yours is a slippery slope and intellectually dishonest and deeply offensive,” Berlinger's email read, according to Sealey’s first screenshot. “How did my film glorify Bundy?”
The email continued over several more screenshots by Sealey.
“Do you know anything about me and my 30 years focussing [sic] on criminal justice issues in my work, from wrongful conviction to victim advocacy? Interestingly, my Bundy doc series was accused by some of glorification because it discussed the hideous violence against women, and then my Bundy movie with Efron, which came out second, was criticized for glorifying Bundy by NOT showing any violence (until the final scene.) Which is it? Is it glorification to feature the violence or is it glorification to not show the violence?”
It was not clear which comments Sealey made to prompt Berlinger to write the email, but Sealey defended herself.
“In every interview I’ve done, I’ve been asked ‘why another Bundy film?’ because that, of course, is the obvious question,” said Sealey, according to Deadline. “That he [Berlinger] wanted me to not answer that question is disingenuous of him.”
Berlinger’s email went on to cite changes his film projects have helped spur in the sphere of social justice, many of which stemmed from his work on “Paradise Lost: Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills.”
“I wish you the best with the film but don’t promote it at my expense,” said Berlinger.
“It felt like he wanted to let me know that he was big and important and he wanted to ‘educate’ me.” Sealey said, according to Deadline. She further went on to say that it felt like “bullying” and “shaming.”
Berlinger was not backing down from his email. “In a private email I let Amber know my feelings in a thoughtful manner. Her publication of that private email is as self-promotional as her comments about my film,” Berlinger said, according to Deadline.
The entire email can be found on Sealey’s Instagram account here.
“No Man of God” will be released on Aug. 27.
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