MANSFIELD - Amidst an entire city holding its breath in anticipation of the local premiere of "A Murder in Mansfield" at the Renaissance Theatre on Saturday, perhaps no one is more excited for the film's screening than Collier Landry.
"A Murder in Mansfield," the documentary film starring and co-produced by Landry, centers around the murder of Landry's mother, Noreen Boyle, at the hands of Landry's father, Dr. John Boyle. More importantly, the film follows Landry as he navigates the impact his father's violent actions have had on the rest of his life.
At 12 years old, Landry - who dropped the name "Boyle" years ago - was the chief witness for the prosecution and testified against his emotionally and physically abusive father, who he believes was responsible for the death of his mother.
"A Murder in Mansfield" will be screened at the Renaissance Theatre on Saturday, June 30 and Sunday, July 1. Tickets are still available for the Sunday show at mansfieldtickets.com.
Landry sat down with Richland Source on Thursday ahead of the Mansfield premiere of his documentary this weekend. Responses have been edited for clarity:
RS: First, let's talk about the fact that the film has sold out for Saturday. Did you expect that to happen?
CL: When we were shooting the film, we talked about having a screening in Mansfield and I kept saying the perfect place to do it is the Renaissance. Everyone kept saying it would totally sell out, but I wasn't sure. Even as it came to fruition after the Cleveland International Film Festival I wasn't sure. It's humbling and it's very surreal; I feel like I'm floating while I'm here.
My mother took me to the Renaissance as a kid, and she would volunteer there, too. It was so important to her for me to have an arts education, which has made me who I am. So to have two screenings there and to sell at least one of them out, it's just incredible.
I came to town yesterday on zero sleep, I was up for like 36 hours. But I went (to the Renaissance) last night and stood outside just sobbing.
It's so humbling because I know this isn't a town that gravitates towards films. I live and work in Hollywood so we think about those things all the time, but when you get out of that small microcosm that we're in, the rest of the world doesn't really care. So to have people purchase tickets and want to attend and want to be there to support, it's overwhelming.
RS: So you knew even when you were filming that you wanted to show it here?
CL: Oh, absolutely. And then for Investigation Discovery to allow us to do that is really cool. They've been wonderful with us in allowing us to take it on the film festival circuit, and then to do this screening.
RS: Did I hear that they'll be showing it on Investigation Discovery at the end of the year?
CL: Yes! I think our air date is in December. Our original air date was January, but Barbara (Kopple, the film's director) kept pushing them because she wanted to take it out to the film festivals. The fact that we were able to bend their ear and get them to really listen to us in that way was really incredible.
RS: Why was it important to you to bring this back to Mansfield?
CL: Because this is where it all happened.
There was an episode of "Forensic Files" about the case, and so many people over the years have reached out to me and found me on social media saying they would love to hear more. This was when I was trying to sell the project and get it made, and it was one of the impetuses to the network where I was saying look, there's interest here - random people find me at least four times a month and they reach out.
It's important because I feel like the community was so connected and so invested. It's weird because I never watched any of the trial footage, ever, until I saw the movie. It's not that I didn't have an interest...I just didn't have an interest. Does that make sense? It was just too close to home.
RS: Right. You were there, you know what happened.
CL: Yeah! I know what happened, I know what I said, I knew the truth and I spoke the truth.
But watching the footage and listening to the people talking about how it was like a movie, and hearing the story of how the judge ordered silence in the courtroom but they cheered in the hallway when the guilty verdict was announced...to feel that love that people had, I knew I had to figure out a way to bring it here. And I'm grateful to the Source for spearheading that.
RS: You mentioned people talking about the entertainment value of the trial, but this was real life for you.
CL: This is a small town, it was a big deal. I think if TMZ was around and the internet was as public as it is now, I could've been a Kardashian. People have their own reaction, I can't control how they feel about things, and people respond in the ways that they respond. They might be looking at it as a tragedy, but they're also fascinated.
Look, the true crime genre is the most popular thing in the demographic for women between the ages of 18 and 55. There's a real curiosity there, a morbid curiosity.
RS: Since we announced that it's coming here, what kind of reaction have you been getting from people?
CL: People have been saying they can't wait to see it and can't wait to see me. Apparently I've been on people's minds, they've always wondered what happened to me. That's so humbling. It's such a wonderful thing.
RS: You're also doing a meet-and-greet. Are you nervous about that?
CL: Completely. But I'm bringing my 360-degree camera and we're going to Facebook live it and do all the social media.
A lot of people reaching out to me are worried that there are 125 tickets sold and only an hour to meet everyone. I think people are going to feel really engaged. People come up to me at film festivals and they feel so connected, after watching the film they have an interest in my life.
It'll be interesting and super overwhelming, but I know there are many people that are coming. I know that everyone that is coming to the film is showing up because they support me and they love me, and that's the absolute most amazing feeling in the world.
RS: What is the one thing you're looking forward to about the screenings this weekend?
CL: There are so many friends I haven't seen for years and years that are coming. They keep asking if they can come talk to me and I'm like, you better! It's going to be really awesome.
RS: Knowing that it's Mansfield who is seeing this film, what's one thing you hope people take away from it?
CL: Hope. In life, sometimes the only way through the fire is to walk through it. The hope, the resilience that you don't have to waste your life because someone tried to - because someone wasted someone else's life and committed something that was...
The film touches on the murder, but my father did horrible things to people. As more people see it I hear more and more stories. He was a monster. And I knew it.
A few of my friends that are filmmakers that have seen the film have pointed out I was sitting across from a monster. I was, I was staring at the devil. I saw nothing back, and I decided he's not taking anything from me.
I want them to walk away with the fact that there's hope in the world. No matter how bad things get, you can walk through it. Sometimes the only way out is through it.