This post was originally produced for Forbes.
Documentary filmmaker Scott Christopherson and his directorial partner Brad Barber have been invited to premier their film at the SXSW Film Festival. The riveting film, Peace Officer, was inspired by the case of a former County Sheriff whose son-in-law was killed by the SWAT team he formed decades earlier. [Note, Christopherson is my wife’s niece’s husband.]
Christopherson shared an early version of the completed film with me to review. It is an extraordinary documentary, as compelling as any feature film I’ve seen, outshining masters of the genre like Morgan Spurlock and Michael Moore. The film is aided by a dynamic true-life character, former Sheriff William Lawrence.
Commenting on the film’s controversial topic, Christopherson said, “The militarization of police is very complex and challenging. The culture of many police forces in the U.S. plays a role in how police act. There is a difference and a connection between the militarization of police and the culture of police. In many ways, those two ideas are connected. The increase in the number of SWAT raids in America since the 1970s is astonishing.”
Barber and Christopherson are crowdfunding on Kickstarter, where it was recently named the campaign a “staff pick.”
On Wednesday, February 11, 2015 at 3:00 Eastern, Christopherson will join me for a live discussion about the film, the crowdfunding campaign and upcoming premier of Peace Officer. Tune in here then to watch the interview live.
More about Peace Officer:
Peace Officer is a documentary about the increasingly militarized state of American police as told through the story of Dub Lawrence, a former sheriff who established his rural state’s first SWAT team only to see that same unit kill his son-in-law in a controversial standoff 30 years later. Driven by an obsessed sense of mission, Dub uses his own investigation skills to uncover the truth in this and other recent officer-involved shootings in his community, while tackling larger questions about the changing face of peace officers nationwide.
As an undergraduate Scott worked for Ross McElwee at Harvard University on his film In Paraguay. Ross helped guide Scott’s first film titled Only the Pizza Man Knows, which was broadcast internationally for over a year on the satellite cable network BYUtv. After his undergraduate work Scott worked as the Documentary Arts Director/Instructor for Spy Hop Productions and the Sundance Institute’s youth documentary workshops. His students’ films went on to win multiple awards locally and internationally and were nominated as the top short film in Utah two consecutive years. While living in San Francisco for graduate school, Scott shot, directed, and edited over 20 short films for Project Runway’s season six website. Scott received his MFA in documentary cinema from San Francisco State University and he also earned an MA degree in Anthropology from UW-Madison. In the summer of 2014 he was featured on the BBC World News for a documentary project he created on the Scottish referendum vote. He is currently an Assistant Professor of documentary film at St. Edward’s University in Austin, TX.