Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer

Director: Nick Broomfield

Institute History

  • 1993 Sundance Film Festival


Between 1990 and 1991, Aileen Carol Wuornos, a thirty-five-year-old prostitute, killed seven men. The FBI termed her "America's first female serial killer." At present there are four feature films and six book deals designed to cash in on Wuornos's illustrious title. Nick Broomfield digs through layers of hype to unearth an accurate portrait of Aileen Wuornos, her crimes and her fate.

Among the outrageous facts Broomfield discovers is a police conspiracy. One month before Wuornos's arrest, police officers reportedly began discussions with Hollywood to make movie deals connected with her story. Their rights package included Wuornos’s girlfriend and lover, Tyna Moore, who at the time was a prime suspect herself. Broomfield also reveals that anyone who wants to film or interview Wuornos has to pay big—not directly to her, but to the swarm of people surrounding her. Wuornos has become a pawn at the center of a cloud of greed, which also makes it very difficult to determine the accuracy of her story.

The apparent irony is that Broomfield, like the others, is there with a camera and microphone, filming a woman who feeds our most insatiable voyeuristic desires. But his disarmingly honest footage is never sensational. He exposes the feminist contradiction in Wuornos's situation and trial: she is both guilty and a victim. Subjected to rape and abuse at an early age, Wuornos is then submitted to an abusive justice system as an adult. Now she sits in prison facing the death penalty.

Broomfield, a veteran documentary filmmaker famous for his ability to get into places no one else can go. once again penetrates a story and drives straight for its essence. He reveals the real Aileen Wuornos and resists telling us she's a monster. Then again, he never says she's not.

Saturday Jan 23 10:00 pm
Holiday Village Cinema I

Monday Jan 25 1:30 pm
Holiday Village Cinema lII

Tuesday Jan 28 1:00 pm
Egyptian Theatre

Friday Jan 29 1:00 pm
Holiday Village Cinema I


— Catherine Schulman

Screening Details


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