Alumni Publish 'Film Quarterly' Piece about Casting JonBenet

BY Ijaaz Noohu, January 6, 2018

Film Alumni Linnéa Hussein '11 and Marc Francis '11 co-wrote Off the Record: Reenactment and Intimacy in Casting JonBenet, which appeared in the September Issue of Film Quarterly.


The piece covers the recent docu-drama from Netflix, Casting JonBenet which is about the mysterious death of of six-year-old pageant queen, JonBenet Ramsey in Boulder, Colorado in the winter of December 1996. Two decades later, director Kitty Green returns to audition local actors, unpacking how each remembers and relates to the ill-fated Ramsey family. A darkly moving exploration of crime, guilt and personal bias, Casting JonBenet expertly blurs the lines between documentary and drama.


The article, available through a subscription to Film Quarterly, is surmised as follows: Kitty Green's recent Netflix documentary, Casting JonBenet (2017), has produced an overwhelming amount of criticism, both positive and negative, for its depiction of a community still grappling with the heinous murder of child pageant star JonBenet Ramsey twenty years after it occurred. Green's approach both challenges existing paradigms of documentary reenactment (and reenactment theories) and reclaims notions of gossip and public life. This article proposes that Casting JonBenet redirects attention away from the sensational trappings of the murder case to shine a light on the case's distributive impact. Triple-casting each player - as actor, character, and themselves - goes beyond the usual doubleness of reenactment documentaries to uncover the hidden intimacies of the local, in its many performative and revealing permutations.

Marc Francis serves as the editorial assistant for Film Quarterly. Linnéa Hussein is a current Ph.D Candidate at NYU’s Tisch School, where she also serves as an adjunct professor, teaching “Forbidden Films: Censorship in the US.”