True-crime docu-drama SPEEDWAY is based on the unsolved murders that claimed the lives of four teens working in a burger restaurant in 1978. The town of Speedway is the location of the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
This feature debut from Adelaide’s Luke Rynderman and co-director Adam Kamien tries to piece together the 40-year-old cold case murder. Filmed partly at an abandoned Chinese restaurant in Adelaide and on location in Indianapolis, the pair spent some six years scouring the internet for genuine artefacts of the era.
Four young workers disappeared from a Burger Chef fast food restaurant one night. It was initially thought that they had stolen the day’s takings before their bodies were found 36 hours later in a forest. The FBI initially investigated the case before being handed to state jurisdiction.
Several theories about the case have been circulating, and each theory is examined. The four teens, all played by relative newcomers Essie Randles, Nya Cofie, Davida McKenzie and Jo Cumpston, become a part of the story-telling process. They help ask and answer questions about the different theories presented. This method helps draw the viewer into the story and helps their narrative of them as real people rather than victims.
Interviews with relatives, friends, detectives and even former suspects help flesh out and discount the various theories in turn. The attention to detail in the set pieces, clothing and language and songs of the era gives a sense of realism to the documentary.
The movie exposes the shocking mishandling of the case at the time, with some new evidence and discoveries that help the viewer draw a more likely conclusion.
Rather than treating the teens as statistics, the film gives them life and agency, giving them a story. For those who love true crime dramas, this will appeal.
FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Speedway had its debut screening at the Adelaide Film Festival.
The Adelaide Film Festival runs until October 29 at various cinemas.
Check out the program here