Waco: The Rules of Engagement

Director: William Gazecki

Institute History

  • 1997 Sundance Film Festival


Waco: The Rules of Engagement is an incredibly powerful examination of the events that led up to the fire at the Davidian Branch compound that took the lives of seventy men, women and children. Through meticulous research and interviews with both survivors and government authorities, the film reveals how the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, the FBI, and the Department of Justice waged an unjustified war against Koresh and his sect and intentionally misled the public about what happened.

The media turned the Branch Davidian sect into dangerous and subversive fanatics, but the survivors who testify in Waco reveal a different story. Through these testimonies and analyses from academics and government authorities, the film examines how sect members perceived this sudden persecution and how the FBI fumbled attempts to negotiate with them. Ironically the tactics the agents used to force the Davidians to surrender played into the sect members’ apocalyptic vision of their own fate. Waco is a disturbing account of how those in power and the media misinform the American public. It also shows how people perceived as “different” are vulnerable in present-day America

— Lisanne Skyler

Screening Details

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