“It’s unbelievable.” The first words spoken in Abduction: The Megumi Yokota Story sum up the horror about to unfold. Directed by Chris Sheridan and Patty Kim and released in 2006, the film tells a story that is alarming to this day. In 1977, 13-year-old Megumi was walking home from school in Nigata, Japan, and disappeared. Her mother, Megumi’s younger brother Tetsuya says, “Even though I was just a kid, I knew something big was happening.” Sakie, recalls worrying but not quite absorbing the profound loss before her. The camera hovers over the sidewalk where Megumi walked, looks up at tree branches that likely cast shadows over her. The sun sinks into a distant horizon, and a percussive soundtrack pulses, pushing forward, ever faster. The sea laps the shore, ominously.
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Three years ago, Jordan Davis was shot and killed at a gas station in Jacksonville, Florida. He was 17 years old.
The man who shot him complained that Jordan and his friends played their music too loudly. When he pulled out his weapon to shoot at the boys’ car, the killer claimed self-defense, saying he saw a shotgun. No weapons were found in the car.
“The United States is where most drugs are sold.” The Mexican meth cooker is working at night, his face covered by a bandana, protection against both smoke and any sort of identification. “We know we do harm with all the drugs that go there,” he goes on as you watch one of his colleagues stir a huge blue vat and another documents amounts with a cell phone camera. Their arms and hands swirl in smoke, rising as if from a witches’ brew, “But what are we going to do? We come from poverty. If we were doing well, we would be like you, traveling the world or doing good clean jobs like you guys.”
“I was scared.” In August 2006, Renata Hill and six friends were arrested in the West Village. As she remembers it, they were walking outside the IFC Theater when a man accosted and then attacked them, leading to a fight when the women defended themselves. When police officers arrived on the scene, the man claimed the women assaulted him, at which point they were arrested, processed, and sent to Rikers Island, where they were locked in the fearsome BullPen, left to sleep on the floor.
“Aileen,” calls out Nick Broomfield near the end of Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer, “I’m sorry.” At that moment, she’s being led away by two prison guards, following her final interview with the filmmaker. Apparently furious that the questions have veered toward the murders for which she’s on Florida’s death row, Wuornos has cut off the meeting, exercising the only control she has over her experience at that moment. She turns back to the camera one last time and raises her middle finger.