DIRTY WARS: THE WORLD IS A BATTLEFIELD (Rick Rowley, 2013)
Film Society of Lincoln Center
Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, Howard Gilman Theater
Thursday, December 26, 6:30
Series runs December 20-26
In 2007, investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill published Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army, which detailed his reporting for the Nation on the controversial private military force hired by the U.S. government to fight in Iraq. Six years later, Scahill has written Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield, a scathing indictment of another secretive fighting force, the Joint Special Operations Command. Director Rick Rowley (The Fourth World War, This Is What Democracy Looks Like) follows Scahill through Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Washington in this eponymous documentary accompanying the book as Scahill uncovers startling information about JSOC and the White House involving kill lists, mysterious night raids and drone strikes, attacks on U.S. citizens, and other controversial elements of the War on Terror. Rowley meets with former operatives who discuss JSOC’s rising power, villagers in Afghan and Yemen who claim U.S. forces murdered innocent women and children based on faulty intelligence, the father of targeted Islamic militant Anwar al-Awlaki, and U.S.-backed warlords who have no regard for the international rules of engagement. Every time Scahill appears to have reached a dead end in his investigation, he uncovers something that keeps him going, knowing it could get him into deep trouble. At one point a clip shows Jay Leno asking Scahill on Bill Maher’s Real Time, “Why are you still alive?” As inappropriate a question as that is, it is loaded with truth. No matter what your political bent, it is extremely difficult to watch Dirty Wars, as it reveals many unsettling facts about America and the War on Terror that will have even the most left-leaning viewers wondering whether Scahill should just have just left well enough alone. Photographed by Rowley and written by the director with Scahill and David Riker, Dirty Wars is screening December 26 at 6:30 as part of the Film Society of Lincoln Center series “For Your Consideration: Documentary Oscar Hopefuls,” which runs December 20-26 and consists of all fifteen nonfiction features that have made the Academy Awards short-list, including Blackfish, The Act of Killing, Life According to Sam, The Crash Reel, First Cousin Once Removed, and Which Way Is the Front Line from Here? The festival will be followed December 27 - January 2 by “For Your Consideration: Foreign Oscar Hopefuls,” comprising such international fare as Wong Kar Wai’s The Grandmaster, Thomas Vinterberg’s The Hunt, Kleber Mendonça Filho’s Neighboring Sounds, and Haifaa Al Mansour’s Wadjda.
Nominated for one Academy Award: Best Documentary Feature