On Friday, June 7, the documentary Dirty Wars opened in New York City (IFC Center and Lincoln Plaza), Los Angeles (The Landmark), and Washington, DC (Landmark's E Street Cinema). With special events and guests all weekend — including live, in-theater appearances by co-producer Jeremy Scahill, director Rick Rowley, writer David Riker, Michael Moore, Dr. Cornel West, Chris Hayes and more — many screenings quickly sold out in all three cities. According to Deadline Hollywood, "Sundance Selects debuted its timely Dirty Wars in 4 runs, also opening solid. The distributor said it played sold out shows in all venues and called the launch a 'promising start.'"
The film — narrated by Scahill, who the author of the George Polk Book Award-winning Blackwater — premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival to critical acclaim. Rowley won the Sundance Cinematography Award for US Documentary and Dirty Wars received a great review from Variety, "This jaw-dropping, persuasively researched pic has the power to pry open government lockboxes." Scahill's eponymous book was released by Nation Books and reached #5 on the New York Times bestseller list.
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.
To watch the trailer, click on the "Play" button below.
Dirty Wars is receiving rave reviews. The film was a "Critics' Pick" in the New York Times, "Pessimistic, grimly outraged and utterly riveting…Like Inside Job Charles Ferguson’s incendiary expose of Wall Street malpractice, Dirty Wars cuts to the chase." The film was also reviewed in the Washington Post, "Scahill certainly knows how to spin a yarn. Not that Dirty Wars feels fabricated in any way. It is meticulously researched and documented…Shocking stuff." Andrew O'Hehir at Salon says, "Scahill's riveting film helps explain how the 'transformational presidency' turned to nightmare... [The film is] haunting and upsetting."
The Los Angeles Times also weighed in, saying, "[Scahill] takes a withering view of both Republicans and Democrats over their lock-step support for what he sees as the fundamental fallacy of U.S. counterterrorism policy: the notion that America can kill its way to victory."