Whither Texas justice? Where fire is involved, the shoot-first-ask-maybe approach is still thriving. Arson investigation is a delicate balance of chemistry, physics, and time, insists Gerald Hurst, an owlish greybeard of an investigator featured in this examination of the potentially wrongful conviction and execution of Cameron Todd Willingham, who was charged with starting a house fire that killed his three children. But in the Lone Star State, arson forensics is an “art”; the mindset collected faulty evidence that was later disproven, not that it helped Willingham, who died in 2004. But a condemned man has few allies. Proper studies were shelved, supposedly open meetings of state boards were restricted, and career forensic reviewers were replaced with political hacks. Unsurprisingly, all the last-ditch pleas to Gov. Rick Perry were brushed away by the righteous, iron-fisted cowboy, who sees Willingham as an evil “monster.” (This is the same man who is trying to recruit his fellow governors to a “day of prayer and fasting for our nation” in August.) Incendiary tells the story of a fire investigation gone as wrong as possible; it’s also how you’ll feel leaving the theater.
Friday, June 24 at 1:15 at Discovery HD Theater; also on Saturday, June 25 at 8:30 p.m. at AFI Silver 3.