No, Really: Documentary Titled ‘Top Priority: The Terror Within’ Is About Brittany Murphy

By  · Published on October 24th, 2012

Occasionally, the telefax at Reject HQ (just like in Argo!) spits out a press release that gives even snarky snarkers like us a moment of pause. One such facsimile arrived via the wire (or the radio, or the broadband, or the we’re-really-not-sure) last night, and we’ve struggled ever since to properly articulate its contents. It’s that much of a head-scratcher.

The press release proclaims, “Brittany Murphy’s Mysterious Death Chronicled in Controversial New Documentary; Biopic on the 8 Mile Star to Follow in 2014.” Pardon? Two Murphy features? And one is not only already made, but already “controversial”? And then it got weirder.

The first of the two features, Asif Akbar’s documentary, will premiere at the American Film Market next week. The release promises that “the memory and legacy of actress Brittany Murphy (8 Mile, Clueless, Don’t Say A Word), who tragically died under mysterious circumstances in 2009 at the young age of 32, will be at the forefront of AFM attendees’ minds” as the film premieres, and it’s hard to argue with logic like that (at least, if you’re bent on maintaining respectful decorum for such a project). Strangely, however, Akbar’s doc doesn’t sound like it has that much to do with Murphy. The project is titled Top Priority: The Terror Within and, as best we can tell, it doesn’t really focus on Murphy, but a “national security whistleblower” named Julia Davis. Seriously, what?

Top Priority reportedly “tells of Julia Davis, a national security whistleblower who was falsely declared a ‘Domestic Terrorist’ and subjected to retaliation of unprecedented proportions by the Department of Homeland Security. The events were chronicled in the book ‘Unsafe At Any Altitude.’ Murphy, a friend of Davis’s and one of Hollywood’s most promising young actresses at the time, was a witness in the former Border Protection Agent’s litigation against the Department of Homeland Security. The film describes how, after the actress provided a written statement in support of Julia Davis, Murphy was targeted by the DHS/ICE. Soon after, the DHS attempted to deport Simon Monjack. Not long thereafter, both husband and wife died under rather suspicious circumstances. Top Priority hopes to shed some light on what really happened to Murphy, as well as the actresses husband Simon Monjack. The film also, like Michael Moore’s enlightening Fahrenheit 911, hopes to expose some of the dirty dealings and unreported activities of the U.S Government.”

And that, dear readers, is the most unexpected press release of the year.

The press release continues on to report that either Akbar or Davis (at different points in the release, both Akbar and Davis are labeled as director, which makes something that’s already unclear seem simply marvelously unclear) is developing a feature about Murphy’s life and death, titled Britt. Whoever is actually making this film has penned it with Murphy’s father, Angelo Bertolotti, who will also produce the project. That film is aiming for a 2014 release, hinging on the project’s ability to find a suitable actress to portray Murphy (that hunt is reportedly on as we type this).

Hopefully, we’ll hear more about both of these projects soon, as Top Priority will screen at AFM next Wednesday, with rights to both the documentary and the narrative feature currently out to buyers.