On Finishing a Film Without the Director

After British director James Miller was killed--shot in the neck by an Israeli army sniper in Gaza in May 2003--while filming an HBO documentary, his wife Sophy, field producer Dan Edge and other crew members felt compelled to complete the movie. Her story is in the Telegraph, and Edge writes in the Guardian about making the film--and watching Miller get shot in front of him.

a sketch of the location where director James Miller was shot by Israeli soldiers on 2 May 2003, image: justice4jamesmiller.com
The finished documentary, Death in Gaza, is a fly-on-the-wall account of a young Palestinian boy and his interactions with paramilitaries barely older than himself. The film also includes extended footage of Miller and his translator being shot as they approached an Israeli APC, while shouting "British journalist!" and waving a white flag. Sketches made during an independent investigation bear an eerie resemblance to camera setup diagrams used on the set. To date, no one has been held accountable for Miller's death.

The film screened last week as part of the the Berlinale's Panorama Dokumente.

Related: An account of Miller's death and an open letter to the Israeli Defense Forces from the Committee to Protect Journalists.
justice4jamesmiller.com, a site set up by his family and friends, which contains the results of an investigation by Chiron Resources, a company which specializes in media support in hostile environments.

Related but lighter: background on the Panorama Dokumente, from Filmmaker Magazine's blog
David Hudson's and Cory Vielma's exhaustive-but-insightful daily coverage from the Berlin Festival, at GreenCine. It's the next best thing to being there.

Since 2001 here at greg.org, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting greg.org that time.

comments? questions? tips? pitches? email
greg [at] greg [dot ] org

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first published: February 15, 2004.

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