No Man Of God's Amber Sealey and Extremely Wicked's Joe Berlinger clash over Ted Bundy films
Berlinger emailed Sealey after he read interviews she gave in support of her drama, starring Luke Kirby as the notorious serial killer, in which he feels she criticized his two Bundy projects: Netflix's Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes and the Zac Efron led Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile. He specifically believed she was "tearing down his work" because she maintained that Bundy films glorify the killer and his violent actions.
"Received this unsolicited email this morning. Thanks for the support, Joe," Sealey captioned a gallery of photos of his correspondence in an Instagram post on Friday. "We have an extra ticket for you to the #NoManOfGod premiere tonight if you'd like to see the movie for yourself and we can discuss more in person openly? Cuz this felt like you were just trying to make me feel s---y right before my screening. Have a great day."
Sealey confirmed in the comments that she has not specifically mentioned Berlinger by name in her discussions of former projects, save for a podcast she doesn't "believe he's heard."
"He just decided I was talking about him when I was talking generally about 20 different Bundy movies," she wrote. "But even if I had mentioned his movies and didn't like it and felt like I had a different take on Bundy than he did, isn't that okay? Wouldn't it be okay for someone to have a different take on Bundy than he does?"
In his email to Sealy, Berlinger said of his projects, "There was a lot of hypocrisy in the review of my two projects. In Extremely Wicked, I made a very purposeful decision to withhold the violence until the end because it's a portrait of the psychology of betrayal and deception from a victim's point of view. Your film, I assume, discusses violence - so is that glorification?"
In a statement to EW, Berlinger responded to the filmmaker's post and defended his take on her previous criticisms.
"Amber is conflating having a 'take' with dissing the work of others... I have no issue with anyone making any film about any subject in any style, but do so without falsely mischaracterizing other people's work," Berlinger shared.
He also noted, "Promoting her film about the rape and murder of women by tearing down my film that was designed to be a victim-focused film about the psychology of betrayal and deception, made with the full support of victim Liz Kendall, played by Lily Collins, and was supported by other victims of Bundy's crimes felt intellectually dishonest. In a private email, I let Amber know my feelings in a thoughtful manner. Her publication of that private email is as self-promotional as her comments about my film. There is room for many takes on a subject, and I wish her the best. It's a miracle that any film gets made these days - so to tear down other people's work to promote your own is not how filmmakers should treat one another. Remember, she made it public, not me. Mine was a private email."
No Man of God centers on the complex relationship between Bundy and F.B.I. analyst Bill Hagmaier (Elijah Wood) while the former was on death row. The film pulls from real-life transcripts documenting how Hamaier's feelings for Bundy while profiling the serial killer evolve into empathy.
The film is set to hit theaters in August.