The 2013 Sundance US Documentary Competition sees the premiere of alum Greg Barker’s newest film: MANHUNT: THE SEARCH FOR OSAMA BIN LADEN, tracing the CIA’s efforts to stop the al Qaeda mastermind.
Sundance Program Description:
On May 2, 2011, Osama bin Laden, America’s public enemy number one, was killed by Navy SEALs in a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The raid, a watershed moment that gripped most of the world, lasted a mere 40 minutes. But the hunt for bin Laden took two decades.
The search began with a team of mostly female CIA analysts, known in intelligence circles as the Sisterhood. These women were trying to take down bin Laden before most of us even knew his name. Piecing together scraps of intelligence, they uncovered a secret terrorist organization, Al Qaeda, and warned Washington of this new impending threat. Their warnings were repeatedly ignored… until the 9/11 attacks, when all the rules changed.
MANHUNT: THE SEARCH FOR OSAMA BIN LADEN unfolds like a thriller. Renowned filmmaker Greg Barker garners unfettered access to the inner circle of a clandestine war on terror and creates a riveting tale of espionage and the moral choices of war.
Barker’s film is based on CNN national security analyst, journalist, and author Peter Bergen’s fourth book about al Qaeda, Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for bin Laden – From 9/11 to Abbottabad, published earlier this year. Barker has a background as a war correspondent and directing and producing for PBS’ FRONTLINE. His first theatrical project, SERGIO (2009), picked up an editing award upon its premiere at Sundance, while his second, KORAN BY HEART, premiered at Tribeca. His producers are fellow Sundance alums who worked with Barker on both of his past films: Julie Goldman, who is also presenting GIDEON’S ARMY and GOD LOVES UGANDA in Park City this year; and John Battsek, who counts among his past Sundance projects THE IMPOSTER (2012), SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN (2012), THE TILLMAN STORY (2010), IN PRISON MY WHOLE LIFE (2008), and LILA SAYS (2005). Consulting producer Tim Williams co-produced Sundance special jury prize winner IN THE BEDROOM (2001) and executive produced Midnight title FROZEN (2010), among several other projects. The doc was executive produced for HBO Documentaries by Sheila Nevins and Nancy Abraham, and will be screening on the cable channel at some point in 2013.
Why You Should Watch:
With the popularity of CIA-focused shows like HOMELAND, a film like Barker’s, with such astonishing access to the agency’s behind-the-scenes’ activities, is sure to engender a lot of interest, especially in the activities of the Sisterhood. But they’re only a handful of the intriguing figures in this gripping and comprehensive exploration of national security and intelligence gathering on an international scale.
For Barker’s thoughts on the film, check out his Meet the Artists profile for Sundance and Indiewire interview. For screening dates and times at Sundance, click the link in the first paragraph.