UPDATE: Dirty Wars recieved a great review from Variety, "This jaw-dropping, persuasively researched pic has the power to pry open government lockboxes." In addition, the film's director Richard Rowley won the Sundance Cinematography Award for US Documentary.
Sundance Selects / IFC Films have just bought the North American rights for a major theatrical release of Nation Books author and Institute Fellow Jeremy Scahill's new documentary, Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield, directed by Richard Rowley. Scahill's eponymous book will be released by Nation Books this April.
The film — co-written and narrated by Scahill, who is a Puffin Foundation Writing Fellow at The Nation Institute and the author of the George Polk Book Award-winning Blackwater — premiered last week at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.
Dirty Wars follows Scahill into the heart of America's covert wars, from Afghanistan to Yemen, Somalia, and beyond. What begins as an investigation into a US night raid gone terribly wrong in a remote corner of Afghanistan quickly transforms into a high-stakes global investigation into one of the most secretive and powerful military units in American history. With a strong cinematic style, the film unfolds like an action movie wrapped around a complex detective story. As Scahill digs deeper into the activities of the most secret and elite fighting force in US history, Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), he is forced to confront painful truths about the consequences of a war without end that extends through Republican and Democratic administrations.
In Dirty Wars, we meet two parallel casts of characters. The CIA agents, shooters, military generals, and Special Forces operators who populate the dark side of American wars go on camera and on the record, some for the first time. We also see and hear directly from survivors of night raids and drone strikes. We walk the bombed out streets of Mogadishu with CIA-backed warlords and meet the family of an American citizen, marked for death and being hunted by his own government — no target is off limits for the "kill list." In this film, the camera is turned not only on the military operators who carry out executive orders but also on the people whose lives are most affected by those orders. Dirty Wars takes viewers to remote corners of the globe to see firsthand the wars fought in the name of Americans and offers a behind-the-scenes look at a high-stakes investigation. We are left with haunting questions about freedom and democracy, war and justice.
Director Richard Rowley discusses his film in the Sundance Film Festival's "Meet the Artists" series. Watch it by clicking on the "Play" button below.
Dirty Wars is receiving rave reviews by the industry press. A Variety article quoted Jonathan Sehring, President of Sundance Selects / IFC films, as saying, "Our entire team was blown away by 'Dirty Wars,' Richard Rowley's tough-minded, gripping film that plays out like a detective story. Jeremy Scahill's investigation into the war on terror being waged around the world is a vital, disturbing and incredibly humane story that will have people on both sides of the political spectrum talking."
In addition, the Hollywood Reporter wrote, "Its ugly truths may have seen plenty of sunshine (and even admiration) since the killing of Osama bin Laden, but the film's narrative drive offers a compelling package for viewers numbed by one news report after another about civilian deaths and secret hit lists. Its tough investigative tone and surprisingly stylish photography enhance cinematic appeal for a doc that merits theatrical exposure."
While at Sundance, Scahill and Rowley were interviewed by Amy Goodman at Democracy Now! In it, Rowley said,
We're flooded with details about one raid, the [raid that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden] on May 2nd, 2011. We know everything about it. We know how many SEALs were in the helicopters. We know what kind of helicopters they were. We know what kind of rifles they were carrying. We know that they had a dog with them that was a Belgian Malinois named Cairo. We know everything about this raid. But that same year, there were 30,000 other night raids in Afghanistan. So, we know everything about this, but those — those are all hidden from us.
Watch the video below.
Scahill will go on an author tour in April, when his new Nation Books title, Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield, is set for release.