“Incendiary” grabs viewers by their throats until the end.

But this superbly crafted film is even more important in showing how Perry’s dismissal of scientific fact...isn’t just a matter of rhetoric but carries real, life-and-death consequences. What makes “Incendiary” so valuable, both as a real-life crime thriller and political portraiture, is that — its title notwithstanding — it sheds far more light than heat.   

As true-crime tale

and political portrait,

‘Incendiary’ honors facts”


    Ann Hornaday for

The Washington Post

    “Incendiary: The Willingham Case” may be the “Moneyball” of political documentaries.

    Granted, this movie doesn’t star Brad Pitt as a scrappy baseball manager who leads a ragtag team of players to a historic winning streak. But “Incendiary” — a riveting true-crime documentary from the Austin-based filmmaking team of Steve Mims and Joe Bailey, Jr. — delivers just as timely and meaningful a message about the importance of honoring empirical facts over gut feelings and irrational biases.

       ...in the tradition of “The Thin Blue Line” and “Paradise Lost,”

(press features)

    John Pierson for

The New York Times

    A wildly and broadly appealing documentary...

a fundamental enigma...


    If there’s an overriding theme to a film that puts science first, it is that science and advocacy are not friends.

“Willingham Filmmakers

will Speak for the Dead.”


    Jason Linkins for

The Huffington Post

    Filmmakers Steve Mims and Joe Bailey Jr.'s first feature collaboration resulted in the documentary"Incendiary: The Willingham Case". Along with David Grann's New Yorker piece, "Trial By Fire," the film has become an essential part of the canon of journalism devoted to the trial and execution of Cameron Todd Willingham.  Their film has made a huge splash. At the SXSW Film Festival in their native Austin, they took home the Louis Black/Lonestar Special Jury award, and now they are out on tour with the movie, with screening dates in Washington, D.C., New York City, Dallas and Los Angeles planned for the fall.

   The film, a bracing weave of scientific exposition, character study and the legal process, has a salience with certain viewers....using the language of film to bring hidden elements, like the complexities of the physical sciences, to life...I had the opportunity to speak with Mims and Bailey this week as the pair prepared for the beginning of their movie's latest D.C.-area engagement...

Filmmakers Steve Mims And Joe Bailey Jr.

Discuss Willingham Documentary



   Tim Murphy for

Mother Jones

    Inspired by David Grann's masterful 2009 New Yorker story about the case, the Austin filmmakers set out to chronicle the flawed forensics behind the execution. They soon found themselves in the middle of a pitched political battle involving Perry's apparent maneuvering to put a thumb on the scales with the Texas Forensic Science Commission. Mims and Bailey spoke recently with Mother Jones about the Willingham case, arson science, and how they navigated the politics of capital punishment.

“Rough Justice under Rick Perry:

Two Austin filmmakers examine ...”


    Ta Nehisi Coates for

The Atlantic

    Incendiary is a gripping fact-based explanation, not just of fire science, but how the science that convicted Willingham was wrong. It's one of the most sober debunkings I've ever seen.

    On Willingham, I highly recommend everyone in the DC area check out Incendiary, which looks at the case. The explanation of fire science, and the phrenology employed by arson investigators in the case, is gripping. 

    See it. 

    Sommer Ingram for

The Associated Press

        AUSTIN, Texas—On the heels of fresh controversy surrounding the Texas Forensic Commission, directors Steve Mims and Joe Bailey, Jr. premiered their documentary Saturday at South by Southwest investigating the scientific and political storm behind Texas' execution of a possibly innocent man.

“Documentary  Based on Texas Arson Case Premieres”


(click here for additional reviews and press)

The Austin American-Statesman

  Justice Examined

    Amid dozens of powerhouse documentaries, two stand out at this year’s South by Southwest Film Conference and Festival...

   -Charles Ealy


Real to reel: Documentaries rule SXSW film this year

    Without much notice, America has entered the Golden Age of documentaries...during the past week, soon-to-be classic documentaries that represent years of work have played for Austin audiences.  They include the previously highlighted ‘Incendiary,’ from Austin’s Steve Mims and Joe Bailey, Jr...

   -Statesman Staff


   Art Levine for

The Huffington Post

   a searing documentary film...

The East Coast premiere on Saturday unveiled a gripping, visually stunning indictment of a miscarriage of justice as great as that chronicled in Errol Morris's groundbreaking ‘Thin Blue Line’ over two decades ago.


    Evan Smith for
The Texas Tribune
    -An Early Look at The New Willingham Documentary 

    Thom Patterson for


    Throughout "Incendiary," a new award-winning documentary, filmmakers pose a tough question with potentially huge consequences: Was a man wrongfully executed because of outdated arson investigation methods?

    Directed by Joe Bailey Jr. and Steve Mims, it goes behind closed doors to visually document how Gov. Rick Perry and the Texas Forensic Science Commission handled the case.

    It also examines a broader question: How accurate are criminal arson investigations? The filmmakers say it's a question crucial to the convictions of hundreds if not thousands of prison inmates nationwide.

    Bailey, a 29-year-old law school graduate and first-time filmmaker, told CNN the documentary was inspired by a New Yorker article by David Grann and just took off from there. It starkly illustrates how officials review death penalty cases, Bailey said, and American society's complicated relationship with science.

“Film Questions Death Penalty Arson Case”


   Justin Elliott for


“To learn more about the case, I spoke with Steve Mims, co-director of a recent documentary on the case, ‘Incendiary.’”

   -The darkest chapter of Rick Perry's career


   Mike Finkelstein for

Pop Goes the Week!

    Steve Mims and Joe Bailey Jr’s INCENDIARY: THE WILLINGHAM CASE has already taken numerous Film Festivals by storm, as well as won the Louis Black/Lonestar Special Jury award at SXSW.  (You could read my review right here…the hype is all real.)  The film, which has been called the partner documentary to David Grann’s New Yorker piece, “Trial By Fire,” is now screening in major cities all around the country, and the directors sat down with us to give us their views on Willingham, their experiences filming, and the unexpected reception that followed.

   -Wrongful Execution: An interview with

INCENDIARY Directors  Steve Mims & Joe Bailey Jr.