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The film’s not right

I’m just amused by this.

Movie producer Emilio Ferrari vowed last week to move ahead with his $30 million screen depiction of the deadly 1993 clash between federal agents and Branch Davidian cultists, even though the Texas Film Commission says the project could taint Texas’ image and is unworthy of taxpayer support.

The movie, Waco, would be the first feature-film treatment of the 51-day federal siege of David Koresh’s Central Texas compound that led to the death of four federal agents and more than 80 cult members.

Ferrari, whose production credits include Baby on Board, starring Heather Graham, called the incident the “nation’s biggest tragedy, after 9/11.”

“And this was by Americans against Americans,” he said. “It’s been completely swept under the rug. I think people have a right to know what happened. I’m not a political guy at all. I’m making a story from every point of view.”

The Texas Film Commission’s director, Bob Hudgins, said the movie would not be eligible for a state rebate of up to 15 percent on in-state production costs because the movie doesn’t “accurately portray Texans.” In language creating the stipend, lawmakers specified that Film Commission grants should be denied movies that distort facts to make Texas look bad.

Hudgins said he consulted media and law enforcement sources and determined that the movie’s script compresses and simplifies the historic event. Actions that were taken by several individuals during the standoff are attributed to a single character in the movie, he said.

The extent of a movie’s factual distortion isn’t a factor in determining its eligibility for funding, Hudgins said. “Either it is (accurate), or it isn’t,” he said.

OK, I’m dying to know the specifics of this. Almost every movie of this kind combines characters, just so it can fit into a movie-length narrative, so I’m curious what the commission deemed too much. The best reminder of the Waco tragedy I’ve seen in recent months was this Texas Monthly story from last April, the fifteenth anniversary of the conflagration. It’s unfortunately only available to subscribers now, but if you happen to come across a print edition it’s well worth your time to read it. Among other things, it demonstrates that many of the key facts about this event are still in dispute. Which makes me wonder all the more just what the commission objected to. Anyone know any more about it?

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