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Meet the 2013 Tribeca Filmmakers #60: Dan Krauss Examines Heinous War Crimes In ‘The Kill Team’

Meet the 2013 Tribeca Filmmakers #60: Dan Krauss Examines Heinous War Crimes In 'The Kill Team'

In 2010, the Army was rocked by the arrest of five American soldiers in
Afghanistan who were arrested and charged for murder for reportedly
killing Afghan citizens for sport. Longtime documentary cinematographer
Dan Krauss (“The Death of Kevin Carter”) was on hand to document the
fallout and Spc. Adam Winfield’s battle against his charges.

What It’s About: A soldier tries to stop his platoon from murdering Afghan civilians
but ends up the target of one of the largest war crimes probes in US
history.

What I Hope Tribeca Audiences Take Away: I would like audiences to come away with a deeper appreciation of the
moral complexities we are asking very young men and women to confront,
often in the blink of an eye.

There is a concept just starting to enter the public consciousness
termed “moral injury.” It refers to a psychological wound that comes
from having taken an action – or not prevented an action – that is a
betrayal of one’s core moral values.

Soldiers are frequently forced to weigh competing moral priorities,
which is profoundly challenging, especially for young people with
limited life experience. Being forced to make a life and death decision
under these circumstances can be incredibly damaging – not just in that
moment – but in the months and years afterward, when soldiers replay in
their minds over and over again the choices they made or failed to make.


Challenges: Access was incredibly challenging. This is a story that had been largely
impenetrable to the media. The Army had placed very tight restrictions
on the soldiers who were charged, making it impossible to contact them.
And because of the sensitivity of the cases, all official channels were
on lockdown. I needed another way in.

I found my opportunity while discussing the case with Adam Winfield’s
defense attorney, who mentioned he had a need for a videographer. I
offered my services pro bono and a month later, I found myself at Fort
Lewis, sitting face-to-face with Adam Winfield, his legs in shackles. In
the weeks that followed, my bond with Adam and his family deepened.
Along the way, I raised the possibility of a documentary project and
they all immediately saw the value in this story being shared in a
fuller, more complex way.

What Inspired You?: “The Times of Harvey Milk” was a seminal film for me. It was the first
time I had seen an interview-driven film that felt truly rooted in
character. And I’ve since become a student of the documentary interview.
When it’s done right, it can take you deep inside the human psyche –
and I find that an exhilarating place to be. To this day, I still become
intensely frustrated when critics dismiss a film for employing “talking
head” interviews. “Harvey Milk” proves that talking heads are only
boring when they say boring things.

In the Works: I have been working for a number of years on a documentary about the
late artist Jeremy Blake, who became media fodder after he and his
longtime love Theresa Duncan both took their own lives after suffering
some sort of psychotic break.

I see the film as a portrait of the creative psyche. It’s a very
different film for me because I’m trying to make it experiential. I’m
blending documentary materials, Jeremy’s dreamlike video paintings, and
imagined point-of-view scenes to take us inside Jeremy’s mind. His
family is very supportive of the project and has been incredibly
generous, allowing me to use not only his artwork but also his personal
materials.

Indiewire invited Tribeca Film Festival directors to tell us about
their films, including what inspired them, the challenges they faced and
what they’re doing next. We’ll be publishing their responses leading up
to the 2013 festival.

Keep checking HERE every day up to the launch of the festival on April 17 for the latest profiles.

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