Richard Rowley and Jeremy Scahill don flack jackets and travel some of the most dangerous roads in the world to flush out America’s secret branch of the military (JSOC). The film is a chilling exposé into how America cannot kill its way to end the war on terror. Rather the killing is the engine driving the perpetual motion of a never-ending and ever-expanding war. It is a look at our future, and it is dark and dirty. Every American should see this film.
MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, by Duane Dudek: “Tired of being fed military press releases from Afghanistan, Scahill — a national security correspondent for The Nation — goes off the grid and visits one of the “denied areas” for a chilling first-person account of one raid that left several dead. He is told by a man who lost his wife, sister and niece, that men with muscles and beards dug bullets out of the corpses before they left.
“I want to wear a suicide jacket” and avenge them, he says. Villagers called them “American Taliban.”
Over time, Scahill discovers the men were members of what was then the little-known Joint Special Operations Command, an elite force in charge of drone attacks, night raids and targeted assassinations “with the full support” of President Barack Obama.
“It’s one hell of a hammer,” one source says, “continually searching for a nail.”
The group also was publicly associated with the killings of Osama bin Laden and American-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, whose 16-year-old son was later killed in a drone attack. And Scahill finds the group’s fingerprints in Yemen and in Somalia, where the United States is arming and financing warlords.
Reporters don’t just carry notebooks anymore.
Films like “Dirty Wars,” directed by Richard Rowley and adapted from the book by Scahill, rush in where mainstream journalism fears to tread. It and hard-hitting exposés like Alex Gibney’s Oscar-winning “Taxi to the Dark Side” — which “Dirty Wars” resembles” — and Kirby Dick’s Oscar-nominated “The Invisible War” fill an investigative void.” Duane Dudek
“This film blew me away from the first shot. It is one of the most stunning looking documentaries I’ve ever seen. So, for elevating the art of observational cinema through sophisticated lensing and an electric color palette, the Cinematography Award for U.S. Documentary goes to Dirty Wars” —Sundance Juror Brett Morgen
VARIETY: Film Review: Dirty Wars by Rob Nelson
“Filed from the frontlines of the war on terror, documentarian Richard Rowley’s astonishingly hard-hitting Dirty Wars renders the investigative work of journalist Jeremy Scahill in the form of a ’70s-style conspiracy thriller. A reporter for the Nation, Scahill follows a blood-strewn trail from a remote corner of Afghanistan, where covert night raids have claimed the lives of innocents, to the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), a shadowy outfit empowered by the current White House to assassinate those on an ever-expanding ‘kill list,’ including at least one American. This jaw-dropping, persuasively researched pic has the power to pry open government lockboxes.”
THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: Dirty Wars: Sundance Review by John DeFore
“Bottom line: A strong filmmaking voice turns already disturbing material into a hot doc.” “…[T]he 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.”
WWD: ‘Dirty Wars’ Documentary Wins Praise at Sundance Debut by Marcy Medina
“Journalists are trained to keep themselves out of the story, but some can’t help become a part of it. In one of the most well-received documentaries at the Sundance Film Festival, Dirty Wars, Jeremy Scahill is both narrator and subject of one of the most incendiary stories in recent history. Directed, shot and edited by fellow war journalist and filmmaker Richard Rowley, Dirty Wars follows Scahill, national security correspondent for The Nation, as he reports on the U.S.’ covert war on terror, which according to the film has seen thousands added to the U.S. military’s ‘kill list,’ and elite forces that operate in the shadows.”
FULL REVIEW by Amy Goodman: