American student Amanda Knox was wrongfully convicted of the murder of her roommate. Eventually her conviction was overturned and she was exonerated, but only after her personal life was totally upended. She lost years of her young life on trial, in prison, and facing the public eye as she simply tries to live her post-exoneration life. She’s been targeted by all sorts of strangers, and accused of stealing the spotlight from the murder victim, Meredith Kercher.
Now Matt Damon and Abigail Breslin are touting their new film, Stillwater, which is a fictionalized account of the crime that Amanda Knox wasn’t involved in. Abigail Breslin was a very talented child actress, and I’m happy for her that she’s making the jump to adult roles, and I feel for her because her father recently died from COVID-19, but I certainly won’t be seeing this film.
It’s sickening to read, in this essay by Knox herself, about the movie industry (and journalists, too) are using Knox’s name without her consent, to profit off of the events that made her a victim.
I am the American girl in that story, and if the Italian authorities had been more competent, I would have been nothing more than a footnote in a tragic story. But as in many wrongful convictions, the authorities formed a theory before the forensic evidence came in, and when that evidence indicated a sole perpetrator, Guede, ego and reputation led them to contort their theory to maintain that I was still somehow involved. Guede was quietly convicted for participating in the murder in a separate fast-track trial, and then I became the main event for eight long years.
While I was on trial for the murder of Meredith Kercher, from 2007 to 2015, the prosecution and the media crafted a story, and a doppelgänger version of me, onto which people could affix all their uncertainties, fears, and moral judgments. People liked that story: the psychotic man-eater, the dirty ice queen, Foxy Knoxy. A jury convicted my doppelgänger, and sentenced her to 26 years in prison. But the guards couldn’t handcuff that invented person. They couldn’t escort that fiction into a cell. That was me, the real me, who returned to that windowless prison van, to those high cement walls topped with barbed wire, to those cold, echoing hallways and barred windows, to that all-consuming loneliness.
“We decided, ‘Hey, let’s leave the Amanda Knox case behind,’” McCarthy told Vanity Fair. “But let me take this piece of the story—an American woman studying abroad involved in some kind of sensational crime and she ends up in jail—and fictionalize everything around it.” But that story, my story, is not about an American woman studying abroad “involved in some kind of sensational crime.” It’s about an American woman not involved in a sensational crime, and yet wrongfully convicted of committing that crime. It’s an important distinction. Now, if he truly were leaving the Amanda Knox case behind, that shouldn’t matter. But then why does every review of Stillwater mention me? Why do photos of my face, not owned by me, appear in articles about the film? –Amanda Knox, The Atlantic