Yesterday marked the 17th anniversary of the tragedy in Waco, Texas. After a botched raid on the Branch Davidian compound by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, a tense 51-day standoff ensued. News crews recorded seemingly every moment of the showdown between the US Government and Davidian leader David Koresh -- including the last moments, when the compound caught fire. When the blaze was finally extinguished, more than 75 people were dead, including Koresh. Documentaries have probed into the events at Waco for years now (Waco: The Rules of Engagement is particularly fascinating), but we've yet to see a fictionalized accounting of the events of that winter and spring. That's about to change.
Production Weekly is reporting that director Rupert Wainwright will direct Waco, "the first narrative feature film to explore the events of the ATF raid on Mt. Carmel, TX, the 51-day siege that followed, and the devastating compound fire that resulted in the deaths of 81 civilians." The film is set to present the tale from multiple viewpoints, "cutting between ATF special agents, FBI Negotiators, the Davidians on the inside, the tactical Hostage Rescue Team leaders, and the political machinations in Washington DC."
Wainwright co-wrote the script with award winning investigative journalist James Hibberd and utilized Waco: The Rules of Engagement director filmmaker Michael McNulty as a consultant. This would seem to indicate that Waco should be a dramatized version of the events, but one grounded in fact as well.
The title has already sparked controversy and earned the Texas Legislature a Thomas Jefferson Center Muzzle Award, based on the state government's refusal to grant tax breaks to motion picture production companies if their films portray the state or its citizens in a negative light. Could this hurt Texas' efforts to recruit business for new movies? Rumors are that production will set up shop in Louisiana, where the project would be eligible for about a $6 million dollar tax break.
Kurt Russell, Adrian Brody and Sharon Stone are attached to the project, but I'm going on record now saying Matthew McConaughey would make an interesting David Koresh. What do you think? Who would you cast as the leader of the Branch Davidians and the man at the center of one American history's saddest chapters?