My look at the 2013 Sundance US Documentary Competition reaches the halfway point: Richard Rowley’s DIRTY WARS follows investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill as he uncovers the existence of America’s secret wars.
Sundance Program Description:
It’s the dirty little secret of the War on Terror: all bets are off, and almost anything goes. We have fundamentally changed the rules of the game and the rules of engagement. Prior to 9/11, it was customary for America to sound a formal declaration of war on a given country before attacking. Today drone strikes, night raids, and U.S. government–condoned torture occur in hidden corners across the globe, generating unprecedented civilian casualties. Investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill traces the rise of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), the most secret and elite fighting force in U.S. history, exposing covert operations carried out by men who do not exist on paper and will never appear before Congress. No target is off-limits for the JSOC “kill list,” even if the person is a U.S. citizen.
Director Richard Rowley takes us on a chilling ride with fearless whistle-blower Scahill. DIRTY WARS is a battle cry for the soul and conscience of an America few of us know exists.
Filmmaker, journalist, and activist Rowley has previously produced and directed several political and social-issue documentaries with the non-profit media collective he co-founded, Big Noise Films. His work has largely been focused on Iraq since the 2003 invasion. Subject and producer Jeremy Scahill has written extensively on the US government’s controversial employment of paramilitary companies like Blackwater, is a correspondent for Democracy Now!, and a regular guest on other news programs. Producer Anthony Arnove is an activist and author who has written extensively on the Iraq War, and worked with Howard Zinn, editing a companion to A People’s History of the United States and also serving as one of the directors of a documentary adaptation, THE PEOPLE SPEAK, and its follow up THE PEOPLE SPEAK UK, which was produced by fellow producer Brenda Coughlin. Executive Producers include BRITDOC’s Jess Search and Sandra Whipham, who combined have had several projects in Park City before, including AFGHAN STAR (2009), ENEMIES OF THE PEOPLE (2009), THE END OF THE LINE (2009), THE YES MEN FIX THE WORLD (2009), UNKNOWN WHITE MALE (2005), and fellow 2013 title WHO IS DAYANI CRISTAL?; and Scott Roth, a partner at The Nation and publisher of the news website Mondoweiss, which covers US foreign policy in the Middle East.
Why You Should Watch:
The driven Scahill makes for an eminently engaging and principled subject, leading the viewer through the shadows of America’s public wars, revealing how much we don’t know about what’s going on behind the scenes. Viewers will no doubt be troubled by Rowley’s provocative film and what it has to say about US policies that will seem like anathema to the nation’s founding principles.
For more information and to join the film’s mailing list, visit its website. For Rowley’s thoughts on the film, check out his Meet the Artists profile for Sundance. For screening dates and times at Sundance, click the link in the first paragraph.