ⓘ James Becket

James Becket

ⓘ James Becket

James Becket

James Becket is a writer and filmmaker who currently uses documentary film to address issues of social justice and the environment. Previously he wrote, directed, and produced independent feature films and, as a journalist and human-rights lawyer, he reported on and engaged with important political events and social problems in Europe and Latin America.


B.A. Williams College Highest Honors; J.D. Harvard Law School; Instituto de Economia, University of Chile Fulbright Scholar, Graduate Institute of International Studies, Geneva, Switzerland.



In the 1960’s Becket began writing as a foreign correspondent from Europe, Latin America and Africa. His reports and articles appeared amongst others in The New Republic, The Nation, the New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor, Journal de Geneve etc. He also contributed to scholarly journals on issues of land reform, economic development, and international human rights law.

Human Rights Lawyer and the Greek Dictatorship

In April of 1967 a junta of Greek Colonels seized power in Greece. Becket and his Greek wife, Maria Becket became active in the resistance and the international movement to restore democracy in Greece. Amnesty International sent Becket and barrister Anthony Marreco to Athens to investigate alleged human rights violations. Their Report which emphasized the regime’s use of torture based on first hand testimony was widely reported in global media. Three Scandinavian countries brought a case against the Greek regime before The European Commission of Human Rights Becket wrote Barbarism in Greece documenting torture and continued writing articles, appearing on television such as the National Broadcasting Company NBC and British Broadcasting Company BBC in the conflict with the regime over public opinion. When the European Commission was to hold hearings in Strasbourg, the Beckets organized the escapes of torture victims from Greece who gave first hand testimony to the Commission. Becket also appeared as a witness. The violation of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights prohibiting torture proved to be a key issue in the Commission’s decision to condemn the dictatorship leading to its exit from the Council of Europe. Becket was declared persona non grata by the Greek regime.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

From 1974 to 1981 Becket served as UNHCR’s Director of Public Information during a period" characterized by a considerable increase in the scale and scope of the work of UNHCR.” He acted as the spokesperson for the organization and produced news stories and documentaries on the major refugee stories of the day including the Vietnamese boat people, Cambodian refugees fleeing genocide, African refugees fleeing wars and apartheid.


In 1981 Becket moved to Los Angeles to pursue a film career. His first film was in 1971 in Chile producing the political film Que Hacer with a group of radical Chileans and Americans during the Salvador Allende election. The film put its actors in real life election situations including speaking with Allende in character. The film received mixed reviews and was in numerous film festivals including the Cannes Film Festival. The 1973 coup overthrowing Allende sent the Chileans who worked on the film into exile or to their death. Working with UNHCR, he made a number of documentaries on refugees, including one on Chilean refugees. His writing of screenplays enabled him to expand into directing and producing and his international experience led him to direct movies with progressive political content in Chile Southern Cross, Thailand Natural Causes, Nicaragua, Sudan, and Jordan Sanctuary.

In television, he directed two After School Specials dealing with such themes as child sexual abuse. He also wrote episodes for Miami Vice and Crime Story. In 1999 he created Becket Films and began producing documentary films on health and ecology. In the health field Becket produced films on childhood epilepsy his young daughter suffered from epilepsy and stroke recovery. He produced a series of eight films on ship-borne symposia that brought together religious leaders and scientists, long estranged, to find common ground on the issue of the environment.Each symposium, under the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, The Green Patriarch’, traveled seven bodies of water in ecological jeopardy ranging from the Amazon to the Arctic to the Adriatic. Becket’s most recent efforts include Sons of Africa 2014 where the sons of two bitter enemies scale Kilimanjaro on a Peace Climb and The Seeds of Vandana Shiva 2020 recounting the life story of the Indian eco-activist, Dr. Vandana Shiva.

Feature Films

  • Natural Causes 1994, Director, Pacific Rim.Best Foreign Film, Houston Film Festival
  • Junior Pilot 2006, Writer/Director, Green Communications.
  • Que Hacer? 1972 Co-filmmaker, Lobo Films.
  • Plato’s Run 1996, Writer/Director, Roy Scheider, Gary Busey, NuImage Films.
  • Southern Cross 1999, Writer/Director/Producer, Bon Films.
  • Ulterior Motives 1991, Writer/Director, Den Pictures,
  • The Best Revenge 1995 Writer/Director, Carlos Riccelli, Robert Pine, Becket Films. Winner Best Feature, Breckenridge Film Festival


  • Je Suis un Refugie 1979 Writer/Director, UNHCR, First Prize Cork Film Festival
  • Fast Forward 1994 Director, ABC Afterschool Special, Wild Films, Humanitas Award
  • Big Boys Don’t Cry 1992 Director, CBS Schoolbreak Special, Churchill Films, Humanitas Award
  • Miami Vice 1988 Writer, Heart of Nigh t 31 August 31 1988
  • Guns in School 1993 Director, PSA, George Foster Peabody Award.
  • Crime Story 1988 Writer, Going Home 27 February 27 1988
  • Sanctuary,1982 Writer/Director, PBS, Cindy Awards, Best in Festival awards


Becket has written thirty screenplays of which ten have been produced.


  • Childhood Epilepsy What you need to know’. 2005
  • The Green Patriarch, 2008 Producer/Director, RSE, 2008
  • Diagnosis Epilepsy: Now what? 2006 Winner 2007 Telly Award
  • The Aegean: The Apocalypse, 1995 Producer/Director, RSE.
  • Sons of Africa,2014 Producer/Director, Journeyman Pictures. Winner Best Doc, Seattle Independent Film Festival, Borrego Springs Festival
  • Stroke Recovery: Taking Back Our Lives, 2010 Producer/Director, Becket Films.
  • The Amazon: The End of Infinity 2004,Producer/Director, RSE.
  • The Seeds of Vandana Shiva 2020, Producer/Director with Camilla Denton, Becket Films
  • The Baltic: A Sea in Peril, 2003 Producer/Director, RSE.
  • The Arctic: The Consequences of Human Folly, 2006, Producer/Director, RSE.
  • The Mississippi: At The Tipping Point 2011 Producer/Director, RSE, 2011
  • El Misterio del Capital de los Indigenas Amazonicas, 2002, ILD,
  • The Adriatic: A Sea at Ris k, A Unity of Purpose 1998, Producer/Director, RSE.


1969 Barbarism in Greece Walker and Company ISBN 73-10987

1973 with Elise Smith First Amnesty International Report on Torture, Duckworth’s,

1998 Inca Gold Bantam ISBN 13 978-1-9333390-20-8

1992 Murder on the Tour de France Bantam ISBN 0-553-29443-1

Selected Articles

14 May1962 "Report from a Troubled Colony” The New Republic

16 May1964 "Autogestion: Algeria’s Socialist Experiment" The Economic Weekly,

23 May 1964" Algeria’s War Orphans” Christian Science Monitor

19 July1966" Suez, dix ans apres, Les consequences de la nationalisation" Journal de Geneve

29 December 1967" Chile’s Mini-Revolution” Commonweal

27 May 1968" Torture in Democracy’s Homeland” Christianity and Crisis

March 1968" The Real Latin America photographic essay” Renewal

March, 1968" How I Became National Champion: Letter from Bolivia” Skiing

6 January1969" Greek Junta on Trial” The Nation

April 1970 pp 44-49)" Inquisition Greek style” Ramparts Magazine

4 August 1972 "Torture as an Institution" New York Times

March 1978 "The Subjective Camera as Leading Character" American Cinematographer

External Links


http//ː Becket

Users also searched: