JAAP VAN HOEWIJK

 

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PROCEDURE 769, the witnesses to an execution

 

Procedure 769 is the document that lays down how a prisoner is to be executed. For the first time in 25 years the procedure was again followed in California, USA.
On April 21, 1992, just before 6 am, Robert Harris stepped into the bright green light. He could only see the audience through the thick glass: his brother, a few friends, and also relative of his victims. There were witnesses on behalf of the state, reporters, and even several VIP’s. The warden stood behind the condemned and looked him straight in the eye when he pushed the lever which lowered the crystals into the acid. All witnesses had a good reason to watch. For one is was a democratic duty, another wanted to see justice served, some wanted to help the condemned in the last moments of his life.
They all looked at the same: a dying man. Yet each saw different things happen.

 

 

1995 / 82 minutes / 35mm

 

Credits

 

co-director                      Rikkert Boonstra

photography                  Peter Brugman n.s.c.

sound                            Tom d’Angremond

editing                            Leo de Boer

music                            Joke Geraets

producers                     Jan Heijs & Ruud Monster

tv network                      NCRV
produced by                  JURA Filmproductions

 

International sales          Films Transit

 

Press

 

The topic is anything but viewer-friendly, yet the pic is never less than fascinating, mainly thanks to a series of often astonishing interviews with the people who saw Harris die that April morning in San Quentin

 

Brendan Kelly - VARIETY

 

With its dramatically lit interviews that describe, in harrowing detail, the prison and the execution, Procedure 769 transcends TV documentary to produce a deeply plumbed analysis of the passion of hatred and the desire to kill.

Kay Armitage - Toronto Filmfestival 1995

 

 

No courtroom scene can carry the weight that these witnesses carried, and that this film focuses so tightly on that fact makes this film rise above. Highly recommended.

 

John LaTour - LetterBoxed

 

 

links

LA Times

Requiem for  the Death Penalty

Murderpedia

IMDB