I don’t believe the makers of “Incendiary” and “Into the Abyss,” films which both touch on the injustice of capital punishment, could have known their documentaries would be so timely.
Just last night, a Georgia man Troy Davis, who many believe to be innocent, was killed by the state for allegedly murdering a police officer in 1991. Davis maintained his innocence right up until his death by lethal injection. His defenders included Jimmy Carter, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, 51 members of Congress, and even William S. Sessions, a former F.B.I. director.
I wrote about Joe Bailey, Jr. and Steve Mims’s “Incendiary” yesterday on this blog, but didn’t mention Werner Herzog’s new film “Into the Abyss” (coming soon from IFC Films), which takes a more philosophical and humanist approach to the issue. If “Incendiary” shows the political and bureaucratic machinations that go into state-sponsored murder, “Abyss” (see clip below) shows the emotional toll of the process on all those involved. I should also mention Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky’s “Paradise Lost” documentaries, which eventually helped contribute to the vindication of Damien Echols from death row, who along with Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley Jr.– a.k.a. “the West Memphis Three” — were wrongly convicted of murder.
Even documentary filmmaker Michael Moore is getting into the act. In a statement on his webpage today, Moore urged people to boycott travel to and do business in Georgia. “I will ask my publisher to pull my book from every Georgia bookstore and if they won’t do that I will donate every dime of every royalty my book makes in Georgia to help defeat the racists and killers who run that state,” he wrote. “I ask all Americans with a conscience to shun anything and everything to do with the murderous state of Georgia.”