Just Another Missing Kid

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Just Another Missing Kid
Directed by John Zaritsky
Produced by Glenn Sarty
John Zaritsky
Cinematography John Griffin
Edited by Gordon McClennan
Release dates
  • 7 April 1981 (1981-04-07)
Running time
90 minutes
Country Canada
Language English

Just Another Missing Kid is a 1981 documentary film about the search for a missing teenager and directed by John Zaritsky.

Eric Wilson had left his native Ottawa in July 1978 in a Volkswagen camper on a trip to Boulder, Colorado. Somewhere in Nebraska he disappeared. The movie traces how his family and a private investigator work to find out what had happened. The film focuses on how little help the various police forces were and is an indictment of the apathy and bureaucracy of the legal system on both sides of the border. Raymond Hatch and Bertram Davis, hitchhikers Wilson had picked up, eventually confessed to the murder. The long-time criminal and drifter Hatch, who had committed the murder, was sentenced to 26 years in prison, but was released after serving 13. In 1994 he stabbed his girlfriend with a knife and was convicted of assault for which he served 9 months in jail. In a follow-up to the story from 1995, the fifth estate reported that Hatch had resumed his drifting. He died in 2000.[1]

Originally produced by CBC Television for the documentary news program the fifth estate, it was broadcast on CBC television to much acclaim in 1981. It was released in theatres in the United States in 1982. In Canada it won an ACTRA Award for the best television program and garnered a number of international awards, including the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature for 1982.[2]

In this film, Zaritsky broke new ground for documentaries by having the interview subjects recreate their actions for the camera. This caused some controversy as some critics and filmmakers felt these recreations did not make it a true documentary. In later years Zaritsky himself agreed the technique should not be used. However it has since been widely used by other documentary filmmakers.

The story was later re-told in fictionalized form in a made for television movie called Into Thin Air. The film starred Ellen Burstyn as the mother and was aired in 1985.

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