Dir. Marc Isaacs - 16min - 2016 - UK
In Touched by Murder the body of a young Polish woman found in a London canal is the starting point of the film. By rejecting the approach documentary films normally adopt when dealing with the subject of murder (in this case by not positioning the murder story as the main event) I looked into a suitable method of provocation designed to create a reflection on some of the most pertinent sub-themes suggested by the murder, such as urban disconnection, alienation, and our relationship to the ‘stranger’ among us.
Touched by Murder actively tests and develops the notion of provocation in the documentary film, to discover its storytelling potential and how it can shape and determine the filmic form of a work. By seeking out and engaging protagonists who had no direct relation to the murder victim, I tried to create an alternative story about specific reactions to the event.
The film also reflects on how serendipity and chance can be deployed in the creation of a film poetic. It was a matter of chance that the body of the young woman floated down the canal and ended up outside a housing block (which then becomes the film’s principal location). The opening sequences of the film are designed, by means of various conversations, to create the impression of normal lives disturbed by the murder.
This is then taken further when, in the final sequence of the film, the protagonists are looking at a photograph of the young woman and her partner (the future murderer). By doing so, the film expands upon the verbal/conversational reactions to the murder because now, since no words are spoken, we are encouraged to focus on facial gestures. It isn’t until the final shot that the photograph is seen by viewers - a decision taken to provoke them to directly experience for themselves their personal reactions to the incident.