When filmmakers dive into unsolved crimes, they’re often cases that resonate with their own life experiences.

At the Variety & Rolling Stone Truth Seekers Summit presented by Showtime, “The Lady and the Dale” director Zackary Drucker told Variety Senior Artisans Editor Jazz Tangcay that instead of actively searching for documentary subjects, “These figures are finding us. These figures are emerging form the past to teach us something about where we are today.”

“This culture will roll right over all vulnerable, marginalized people. It has no regard for individuals,” she said.

“She was a transgender woman who was also a felon on the run from the FBI and transitioned while she was evading law enforcement,” Drucker said of the subject of her doc, Liz Carmichael. “When she was discovered, her gender identity was conflated with her identity as a criminal, which is totally textbook. Trans identity has always been linked to criminality — the perception that a man might masquerade as a woman to commit a crime.”

The panel also included filmmaker Joe Berlinger (“Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel” and “Paradise Lost”), director Amy Ziering (“Allen v. Farrow”) and podcaster Donald Albright (“Up and Vanished” and “Atlanta Monster”).

Albright said his own identity and experience were crucial to taking on the “Atlanta Monster.” “Immediately, the Atlanta child murders was something that I kind of lived with my entire life, even though I wasn’t alive at the point when it was happening in my community, it was talked about in the Black community constantly.”

Berlinger said he didn’t start making podcasts to effect social change, but it ultimately came to that. “We entered ‘Paradise Lost’ thinking we were making a salacious kids-killing-kids film, but as we watched them go off to death row and we knew we were sitting on something that could actually liberate them, never imagining it would take 18 years and two films later, we found that that’s where the social justice impulse is.”

Watch the full discussion above.