Key cast: Carlo Musso


A doctor walks the line of his own morality as he participates in executions, while personally opposing capital punishment.

Lauren Knapp is a non-fiction storyteller who works across platforms to share true and compelling stories. She has been working in film, television, radio, and virtual reality since 2006 and her stories have appeared on the PBS NewsHour, NPR, PRI’s The World, WQED, and The Atlantic Monthly website. In 2011, she moved to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia with the support of a Fulbright-mtvU Fellowship where she produced Live From UB (2015), an award-winning feature length documentary on rock music and national identity among Mongolia’s urban youth.


With a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Grinnell College and a background in journalism, Lauren found a marriage of her interests in documentary film. Her films aim to provoke more questions than they answer, whether examining globalization, the practice of active shooter safety drills in elementary schools, citizen scientists who blur the line between biological innovation and body modification, the experience of aging, or medicalized executions. She received her MFA in Documentary Film and Video from Stanford University in 2016.

Director Statement

In recent years, a series of botched executions has highlighted the gruesome nature of lethal injections. As a long-time opponent to capital punishment, I found these events to be particularly difficult to digest. But, I had also held the belief that if our society were to practice the death penalty, lethal injection was the best option. As I read coverage of these incidents and the legal fallout, I was struck by the role medicine played in the execution process.


For me, working on The Sandman took on an investigatory element. I spent months researching the intersection of medicine and executions before touching my camera. I found that each conversation with a journalist, lawyer, or doctor challenged my own preconceived notions about the nature of lethal injection.



While I chose to narrow the scope of this film to the singular experience of one doctor, I hope that these questions with which I engaged throughout production shine through. It was my goal to create a piece that provokes questions, rather than prescribes answers, and opens dialogue on the polarizing subject matter of capital punishment.



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