7 March 2008

TAXI TO THE DARK SIDE - Is torture an acceptable part of society?

'Taxi to the Dark Side' is yet another documentary which forms part of a series of post 9-11 critiques on the implications of the supposed war on terror and the illegal occupation of Iraq. Unlike Michael Moore and Nick Broomfield who tend to bring a degree of controversy and media attention to their work, Gibney's understated approach is altogether more impartial and neutral. It is rare to come across a documentary today which doesn't extenuate the performative mode and allow the opinions and political ideologies of the director to come to the foreground. Using the tragic case of the murder of an innocent Afghan taxi driver, Dilawar, Gibney explores how torture has become embedded within the US military and more importantly condemns the role played by politicians and leaders in advocating a problematic legal position. Ultimately, Gibney puts together a fascinating and ugly catalogue of war crimes which were sanctioned by a chain of command that was corrupt and meaningless. The real coup of the documentary was being able to get access to the torturers and perpetrators involved in the murder of Dilawar. Recalling the noble intentions of Kopple's 'Winter Solider' document of the 1971 Vietnam Veteran hearings on atrocities being committed in Vietnam by American soldiers, Gibney gets on camera the personal testimonies of soldiers like Damien Crosetti, one of the principal interrogators at Baghram Air Base in Afghanistan, with a truthfulness that very few political documentaries have been able to capture appropriately and authentically. Co financed and commissoned by the BBC4 Storyville Season, Taxi to the Dark Side recently walked away with the Oscar for the best documentary feature. This is perhaps a significant documentary and though it has been overshadowed by the likes of Sicko, it will probably find somewhat of a limited audience when it finds it way on DVD later this year.

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