Toronto True Crime Film Festival 2018: “The Sandman” (2018) ★★★★


I have always believed that correctional facilities or widely known as prisons or jails are the place where people who were sent there for wrongdoing will realize their mistake and  change themselves for good. That, of course, would have happened in an ideal world. Unfortunately, that’s a world we never lived in. In North America there is the tendency to put there as many people as they can whether they have enough room or not for the sake of cheap labor. But whatever it is, correctional facilities do not carry out the mission they must have carried as primary focus – to correct bad guys or ladies.

They not only continue damaging broken lives, but they even take one if the law allows. But why do the law allows to punish one for killing but encourages another one for the same? And then sending doctors to witness how someone will be put to sleep by lethal injection is part of capital punishment? If you are into analyzing this matter, asking questions, or simply alarmed by the double standards, then “The Sandman” is a documentary film that will give you an excellent foundation to start with.

“The Sandman” follows Dr. Carlo Musso whose job is, other than being a physician, to appear in four prisons to watch how a human being, whether good or bad, deserving or not, being put to sleep. As he opens up about his challenges and the duties, the viewer will learn that there are 31 States in America which practice capital punishment and only 17 of them require a physician to be present during lethal injections. While major medical organizations oppose doctor’s participation, most still do so, albeit anonymously.

Dr. Musso’s clinic provides healthcare to prisons, helps inmates get better, recover from flu or any other disease that help with the execution process of people they’re owed to help as doctors. But that is an interesting detail which emerges in this short film when you realize that the doctors are no different from the one who injects the lethal drug and are rather a passive contributor in taking the life of a living person.

In conclusion, “The Sandman” brings that level of empathy towards doctors or medical organizations that oppose their doctors to be present during such moment. However, the fact that some do without even protesting is what is intriguing in this entire story. It’s fascinating that Dr. Musso, who earned the nickname “The Sandman” due to his dark job, agrees to talk in front of the camera and bring the concerns he has through his interviews with Teresa Musso, a member of the lethal injection team who had to quit the assignment after having her son. But this film has much more than that to offer, with all those mind-blowing facts, I should say, is a journey I wish, my dear reader, you will have enough courage to embark yourself on.

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