Dirty Wars (2013)

Movie


Dirty Wars (2013)

Dirty Wars follows investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill, author of the international bestseller Blackwater, into the hidden world of America's covert wars, from Afghanistan to Yemen, Somalia, and beyond. Part action film and part detective story, Dirty Wars is a gripping journey into one of the most important and underreported stories of our time. What begins as a report on a deadly U.S. night raid in a remote corner of Afghanistan quickly turns into a global investigation of the secretive and powerful Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). As Scahill digs deeper into the activities of JSOC, he is pulled into a world of covert operations unknown to the public and carried out across the globe by men who do not exist on paper and will never appear before Congress. In military jargon, JSOC teams "find, fix, and finish" their targets, who are selected through a secret process. No target is off limits for the "kill list," including U.S. citizens.
USA
IMDb   7.5 /10
Metacritic   76 %
TheMovieDb    7.1 /10
RottenTomatoes
FilmAffinity   6.7 /10
Creators
Director Rick Rowley
Writer David Riker
Writer Jeremy Scahill
Information
Release Date2013-10-17
Runtime1h 27min
GenreDocumentary, Crime, History
Content RatingNot Rated (Not Rated)
AwardsNominated for 1 Oscar11 wins & 8 nominations total
CompanyBig Noise Films, Civic Bakery
CountryUSA
LanguageEnglish, Pashtu, Somali, Dari, Arabic
Jeremy Scahill
Jeremy Scahill
Selfas Self
Nasser Al Aulaqi
Nasser Al Aulaqi
Self - Intervieweeas Self - Interviewee
Saleha Al Aulaqi
Saleha Al Aulaqi
Self - Intervieweeas Self - Interviewee
Muqbal Al Kazemi
Muqbal Al Kazemi
Self - Intervieweeas Self - Interviewee
Abdul Rahman Barman
Abdul Rahman Barman
Self - Intervieweeas Self - Interviewee
Saleh Bin Fareed
Saleh Bin Fareed
Self - Intervieweeas Self - Interviewee
Andrew Exum
Andrew Exum
Self - Intervieweeas Self - Interviewee
Abdul Ghafoor
Abdul Ghafoor
Self - Intervieweeas Self - Interviewee
Philip Giraldi
Philip Giraldi
Self - Intervieweeas Self - Interviewee
Matthew Hoh
Matthew Hoh
Self - Intervieweeas Self - Interviewee
Patrick Lang
Patrick Lang
Self - Intervieweeas Self - Interviewee
Selfas Self
William McRaven
William McRaven
Selfas Self
Emile Nakhleh
Emile Nakhleh
Self - Intervieweeas Self - Interviewee
Malcolm Nance
Malcolm Nance
Self - Intervieweeas Self - Interviewee
Selfas Self
Mohamed Qanyare
Mohamed Qanyare
Self - Intervieweeas Self - Interviewee
Mohammed Sabir
Mohammed Sabir
Self - Intervieweeas Self - Interviewee

Dirty Wars

Dirty Wars is a 2013 American documentary film, which accompanies the book Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield by Jeremy Scahill. The film is directed by Richard Rowley, and written by Scahill and David Riker.


Production

Production for the film began in 2010 when Scahill, who worked as a reporter for The Nation magazine, traveled to Afghanistan with director Richard Rowley, with only a vague idea for what the film would be about; they only decided upon the subject matter after investigating a series of night raids carried out by the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). The film had no budget, and at the outset Scahill and Rowley traveled to Afghanistan using money from a grant Scahill had received to support his reporting.

Initially the film was not intended to have Scahill as a narrator or protagonist, instead acting as a "tour guide" as the film traveled between the sites of covert U.S. military action. David Riker was brought on board to assist with writing after an initial four-hour rough cut of the film was put together, and he convinced Scahill and Rowley to make the film more personal.

During filming, Scahill and Rowley traveled to Somalia to meet warlords in different territories of the country. As no American insurance companies would cover them to travel there, they had to get kidnap and ransom insurance from another country.


Synopsis

Investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill travels to Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, and other countries where the United States has taken military action in the War on Terror. In Afghanistan, he investigates the United States military and government cover-up of the deaths of five civilians, including two pregnant women killed by US soldiers from the Joint Special Operations Command. After investigating the attack, Scahill travels to other sites of JSOC intervention, interviewing both proponents and opponents, and the survivors, of such raids, including U.S. Senator Ron Wyden.

Scahill also investigates the assassinations of American citizens Anwar al-Awlaki and his son Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, meeting with their family at their home in Yemen. Scahill suggests that the War on Terror is in fact a "self-fulfilling prophecy" and causes the radicalization of Muslims. He also discusses the case of Yemeni investigative journalist Abdulelah Haider Shaye who was detained, tried and sentenced on terrorism-related charges after reporting on American drone strikes.


Release

Dirty Wars premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival on January 18, 2013. The film competed in the U.S. documentary section, and it won the Cinematography award.

The film was released in four theaters in New York City, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC on June 7, 2013. Over the opening weekend, it grossed an estimated $66,000, a theater average of $16,500. The film opened in British cinemas on November 29, 2013 with showings in nine cities around the country.


Reception

Critical reception

Dirty Wars received critical acclaim. Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes certified the film as "fresh" with a score of 85% based on 71 reviews, and an average rating of 7.40/10.. The website's critical consensus reads, "Some viewers may find fault with director Rick Rowley's filmmaking methods, but they aren't distracting enough to keep Dirty Wars from serving as a terribly compelling argument against elements of American foreign policy.". Metacritic rated the film 76 based on 18 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews". The film obtained a high score of 7.5 out of 10 from the aggregation of more than 6000 votes at the Internet Movie Database.

Trevor Johnston found the film to be a "gripping investigative doc, which plays out like a classic conspiracy thriller as it follows a trail of clues to the heart of darkness behind President Obama’s good-guy facade. Scahill may not have the screen charisma of a Hollywood leading man, but he has the integrity to keep on pushing at closed doors even after threats are made to his personal security. He also widens his focus to include Yemen and Somalia and draws a pattern of state-sanctioned assassination by unchecked US special forces and their mercenary hirelings."

However, Douglas Valentine wrote "...the film is so devoid of historical context, and so contrived, as to render it a work of art, rather than political commentary. And as art, it is pure self-indulgence." Some reviewers criticized the film's focus on Scahill rather than on the issues he covers. Ella Taylor said that "as a journalist Scahill is surely the messenger, not the subject, and the attention he receives in Dirty Wars distracts us from the bigger picture he paints."

Accolades

Dirty Wars was nominated for a 2013 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. Christopher Barnett (Sound Designer at Skywalker Sound) won the 2014 Golden Reel Award for Best Sound Editing: Sound Effects, Foley, Dialogue, ADR and Music in a Feature Documentary, given by the Motion Picture Sound Editors society. The film was also nominated for Best Documentary Screenplay from the Writers Guild of America.