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Sophie: A Murder In West Cork - What We Know So Far

Unsolved murders pull on the public consciousness in a persistent and compelling way. No one likes to think that the law enforcement structures currently in place are incapable of catching the worst, most imaginative, and clever criminals in society. This means the fascination with such tragedies originates partially from the way their unfinished nature conflicts with one of our most basic needs — that of safety for our families. In 1996, the murder of a French documentary producer, 39-year-old Sophie Toscan du Plantier, in West Cork, Ireland, two days before Christmas, shocked the two countries involved and sparked an investigation that hasn't finished after more than a quarter-century of developments. Soon, Netflix will weigh in on the issue with "Sophie: A Murder in West Cork."

The three-episode crime documentary series will focus on the crime and the investigation, which for decades has focused on journalist Ian Bailey as a suspect. He was even tried and convicted in France, in absentia, but remains free in Ireland. It's unclear what new information the Netflix series will add, but as this is said to be the first documentary that was made with the blessing of the victim's family, it will probably be quite sympathetic to Toscan du Plantier. Here's what we do know about the coming true crime streaming event.

When is the release date for Sophie: A Murder in West Cork?

Netflix announced the new documentary back in fall 2020, per Irish Central. On May 19, the company announced that "Sophie: A Murder in West Cork" will premiere on June 30, 2021 (via Deadline). This is just the latest on-screen attempt to make sense of the beating death and its aftermath. 

The project actually follows on the heels of another documentary on the same topic, made by Academy Award nominee Jim Sheridan ("My Left Foot," "In the Name of the Father") for Sky Crime and Now TV, according to CorkBEO. "Murder at the Cottage: The Search for Justice for Sophie" aired in five parts starting on May 9 (via The Southern Star) but was only shown in the United Kingdom, where Sky TV is based. It's unclear whether or not that series, which apparently looks at several different suspects, will get a more international airing at some point in the future. It would be interesting for viewers to see how it compares with the Netflix version, which will certainly have a wider release. Netflix reportedly has more than 200 million subscribers in over 190 countries, according to Finances Online.

Who is in the cast of Sophie: A Murder in West Cork?

While a documentary of this nature can't be said to have a cast per se, the production will include commentary from people involved in the investigation and other key players, plus members of du Plantier's family — including her only son, Pierre-Louis Baudey. Main suspect Ian Bailey, who has won several legal battles against extradition to France, per the Journal.ie, told the publication Joe that he gave Netflix some limited access to scenes from his life. However, he did not do an interview for "Sophie: A Murder in West Cork," as he felt it would be "a piece of demonization," since the production seems so closely aligned with the victim's family.

John Dower ("My Scientology Movie") is helming the project, which is produced by the company Lightbox. The Irish Times reports that one of the project's executive producers, Frederic Gazeau, is a cousin of the victim.

What is the plot of Sophie: A Murder in West Cork?

Naturally, this short series will explore the circumstances surrounding the murder, the investigation, and the people who have been involved with the case, such as witnesses.

Based on media reports so far, it also appears that this particular documentary will focus at least in part on Toscan du Plantier herself. Executive producer Simon Chinn said (via The Irish Times) when the project was announced, "As the only documentary project ever to have been made with the blessing of Sophie's family, we feel it's critical to properly understand who Sophie was as a person and the events that led her to her terrible fate."

Chinn and co-executive producer Suzanne Lavery said in a statement via Deadline that they hoped the series would "do justice to her memory," when it comes to the family. "Sophie was much more than a victim of a murder. She was a mother, a daughter, a sister, a filmmaker and a writer. Whatever actually happened on that cold December night in 1996, the story is one of a collision of worlds, cultures and characters and it was that which drew us to it," the filmmakers said.