Docpoint – Helsinki Documentary Film Festival


Citizen Sleuth

A young woman named Jaleayah Davis died in a car accident in Ohio in the year 2011. Or was it an accident after all? Emily Nestor, a true crime fan who happens to be the same age as the victim, started to investigate and address the case in a podcast called Mile Marker 181. Surprisingly, the show was a success, and young Nestor was catapulted among the big names of true crime media. 

Citizen Sleuth follows Nestor while she is working on the podcast episodes, interviewing police and experts and visiting true crime fan events. However, the story lives on, and soon Nestor has difficult ethical problems to ponder.

In the beginning, Nestor is idealistic. The victims of the crimes must receive justice. What if the police haven’t done their work properly? As the events unfold, her situation changes: making the podcast turns into a profession and a source of income. In this case, the motive for detective work changes as well. What if it appears that the evidence is leading to a result that doesn’t attract the listeners?

Emily Nestor is from Appalachia, West Virginia, an area not known in the States for being civilized and sophisticated. Nestor’s childhood idol was the main character from the movie Silence of the Lambs, FBI agent Clarice Starling, who is also from Appalachia. However, Nestor thought that in reality, someone from her home turf would never end up in such a fancy job, so she worked as a bartender and waitress before her success in the podcast industry. The milieu of the film is undoubtedly one of its strengths. It displays a part of the United States which is rarely seen.

Juhana Pettersson (translated by Jenni Kaunisto)

Content warning: imagery from the scene of a car accident

Chris Kascik is present in the screenings of Citizen Sleuth on Wed, Jan 31 and Thu, Feb 1.

Language: English
Subtitles: No subtitles
Length: 82 min
Age Limit: K16
Year: 2023
Production Country: United States

Director: Chris Kasick
Producer: Chris Kasick, Tyler Davidson, Fabiola Washburn, Drew Sykes, Jared Washburn
Production Company: CKC, Low Spark Films
Distribution Company: Autlook Filmsales
Editing: Jeff Gilbert
Cinematographer: Jared Washburn
Music: P. Andrew Willis
Sound Design: Nathan Ruyle