Price: $395.00

    Code: 2479

    Directed by Jaap van Hoewijk
    2014, 55 minutes
    Purchase: $395 | Classroom Rental: $125

    Neither advocating for the death penalty nor against it, Killing Time is a devastating investigation into the futility of taking a life - both a murder and a state sanctioned execution. A genuine discussion starter, it is an honest look at the private, logistical and business-as-usual aspects of capital punishment in today's America.

    When Elroy Chester was convicted for raping two teenage girls and killing their uncle in 1998, he was sentenced to death. Chester spent 15 years on death row, but now it's June 12, 2013, and the long wait has come to an end. In Huntsville, Texas, preparations are being made to carry out the sentence. At precisely 6 p.m., Chester will be put to death by lethal injection.

    While his family prepares for a sad farewell, members of the victims' family look forward to the closure of a long period of grief. Jaap van Hoewijk's first feature-length documentary, the 1995 film Procedure 769: Witnesses to an Execution, focused on the people who come to watch the sentence getting carried out. In Killing Time, he shifts his attention to the next of kin as they and Chester watch his last hours, minutes and seconds tick away. Everyone kills the time before the execution in his own way. With his final moments approaching, we hear frank accounts from Chester's sisters as well as the rape victims and their family. Occasionally their words are filled with hatred, but at other times the tone of their emotions and experiences is surprisingly nuanced. Meanwhile, the media has arrived in Huntsville, with the same matter-of-factness, even levity, as if reporting on a traffic incident, to cover yet another execution.

    Elroy Chester was the 499th person in the state of Texas to be put to death since 1982. There are 300 more convicts in Texan jails awaiting the same fate.

    Subjects & Collections

    Festivals & Awards

    * Winner, Amsterdam Documentary Film Festival
    * Official Selection, True/False Film Festival


       1/2 "Highly Recommended. Remarkable for capturing the honest reactions to the execution of a convicted murderer - a going-through-the-motions process that seems to ultimately benefit no one." - Video Librarian

    “Remarkable. As Killing Time demonstrates, it may be even harder to see someone die while being crippled by a sense of societal determination, that not only can nothing be done to stop an execution, but that these events were, somehow, destined to occur; at least, Van Hoewijk's cumulative observations devastatingly suggest as much.” - Slant

    “This patiently infuriating chronicle of Texas at its racially polarized worst is all true… There’s zero reason to doubt the testimony of one of Chester’s rape victims, but it becomes increasingly hard not to notice that outside an all-white network of journalists, prison employees and relatives of one of the murder victims has come together to perpetrate (and celebrate in a group photo, no less) the execution of a black man. It’s an inherently racialized dynamic, and there could be no clearer or more alarming example of a state systematically segregating, failing and punishing an entire group of people literally cradle to grave.” – Filmmaker Magazine

    Highly Recommended. Discussion groups may wish to use this film as part of an overall examination of other socio-economic issues related to crime and punishment in America. It may be helpful to evaluate the use of execution set in the context of group diversity through the lens of economics, social stigma or race.” – Educational Media Reviews Online