A controversial Los Angeles film director has found a distributor for his dramatization of the real-life murder of a Jefferson City girl.
"My Name Is "A' By Anonymous," was directed by Shane Ryan and will be distributed by Wild Eye Releasing. For pay-per-view, it was renamed "Alyssa: Portrait of a Teen Killer."
It will be released on DVD on Sept. 23, and pay-per-view shortly after that. Twenty-five seats are available for a showing on Sept. 25 in Hollywood, California.
The film is about Alyssa Bustamante, a 15-year-old girl who killed her 9-year-old neighbor, Elizabeth Olten, on Oct. 21, 2009.
Ryan said he used a documentary style to shoot the film in four days with a $300 budget, after seeing television coverage that vilified Bustamante without trying to understand her.
He was particularly angered when he heard television commentator Nancy Grace, a lawyer and former prosecutor, make light of Bustamante's attempted suicide in jail after the killing.
"I thought, "They're making fun of a 15-year-old child, regardless of what she did. And you don't even know if she did it yet,'" Ryan said.
Ryan also directed, wrote and starred in "Amateur Porn Star Killer" and appears in the film "Darling Nikki."
Bustamante told investigators that she committed the murder because she wanted to know what it felt like to kill someone. In her diary, Bustamante detailed the murder, saying it was "ahmazing."
After a plea agreement in which she pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, she was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole. Earlier this year, Cole County Circuit Judge Pat Joyce denied Bustamante's request to vacate her conviction and sentence due to ineffective legal counsel.
At her sentencing hearing, Bustamante said: "If I could give my life to bring her back, I would. I just want to say I'm sorry for what happened."
The film is a blend of documentary-style, first-person and classical cinematography. Ryan said that, like Bustamante, he practiced self-mutilation as a child. He said that when he was editing the movie, he relapsed, and started cutting his arm again. He used actual footage of his bleeding arm in the movie to show a closeup of Bustamante's arm.
The film was co-produced by actor Kevin Gage ("Con Air," "G.I. Jane") and Ryan Nicholson, who directed "The Profane Exhibit" and "Gutterball."
The makers of "Alyssa" blamed a battle over release rights for a 3 1/2-year delay. During that period, it was named "Best Arthouse Film" at Pollygrind Film Festival in Las Vegas.
An online campaign to raise funds for its release at indigogo.com shows it topped its $500 goal. A message on the site says: "People WORLDWIDE have been dying and requesting to see it, since before post-production even wrapped, but nobody's had the guts to show it; at least not in Hollywood."
Video News said the film is "a wake-up call ... gritty, shocking & disturbing." The London Film Review wrote: "an unflinching portrait ... should probably be seen and discussed by as many people as possible. Bold, daring, disturbing & heartbreaking."
The end of the film shows a fading shot of a newspaper photo of Olten's character. Ryan said it shows the sad reality that the victim is often forgotten in such cases.
A trailer of the film can be seen on YouTube or at www.indiegogo.com/projects/my-name-is-alyssa-portrait-of-a-teen-killer-event.