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Chris Pizzello, Associated Press
Amy Berg, left, director and screenwriter of the documentary film "West of Memphis," poses with, from left, producers Damien Echols and his wife Lorri Davis, and producer Peter Jackson at the premiere of the film at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, Friday, Jan. 20, 2012. The film uncovers new evidence surrounding the arrest and conviction of three men in the 1993 murders of three eight-year-old boys in West Memphis, Arkansas.

PARK CITY, Utah — Peter Jackson believes Damien Echols would be dead now if not for a 1996 documentary that cast doubt on the man's guilt in three child murders.

"The Lord of the Rings" filmmaker and wife Fran Walsh came to the Sundance Film Festival to premiere their documentary "West of Memphis," which chronicles the case of Echols and two other men jailed for 18 years for the 1993 slayings in Arkansas. Echols had been sentenced to death, while the others received life prison sentences.

Jackson and Walsh began financing an investigation in 2005 after they watched the documentary "Paradise Lost," which premiered at Sundance nine years earlier and raised doubts about the case.

Directed by Amy Berg, "West of Memphis" traces that investigation through the release of the men last summer.