A look at tightrope walker Philippe Petit's daring, but illegal, high-wire routine performed between New York City's World Trade Center's twin towers in 1974, what some consider, "the artistic crime of the century."
Jean François Heckel,
Alex Gibney explores the charged issue of pedophilia in the Catholic Church, following a trail from the first known protest against clerical sexual abuse in the United States and all the way to the Vatican.
Using the torture and death in 2002 of an innocent Afghan taxi driver as the touchstone, this film examines changes after 9/11 in U.S. policy toward suspects in the war on terror. Soldiers, their attorneys, one released detainee, U.S. Attorney John Yoo, news footage and photos tell a story of abuse at Bagram Air Base, Abu Ghraib, and Guantanamo Bay. From Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Gonzalez came unwritten orders to use any means necessary. The CIA and soldiers with little training used sleep deprivation, sexual assault, stress positions, waterboarding, dogs and other terror tactics to seek information from detainees. Many speakers lament the loss of American ideals in pursuit of security. Written by
The award-winning documentary you're not going to see
... at least not on Discovery Channel.
Said director Alex Gibney recently (on DemocracyNow): "Well, it turns out that the Discovery Channel isn't so interested in discovery. I mean, I heard that I was told a little bit before my Academy Award nomination that they had no intention of airing the film..."
Discovery Channel has bought the exclusive TV rights for the next 3 years, but Gibney hopes they can be persuaded to sell them "for a profit".
And it is a powerful film. Although it reveals nothing new about the torture and degrading techniques we've become accustomed to over the last three years, it puts politician's faces and statements in context with a "real" victim and a name: young Afghan Taxi driver Dilawar, who was arrested at a checkpoint for alleged involvement in a rocket attack. Five days later he died at Bagram, after two days of continuous beatings, standing up in chains inside his solitary confinement cell. The American coroner checked "homicide" on his death certificate and handed it with the body to his family, who couldn't read English.
The film then takes us along the ride from Afghanistan to the present day. Dilawar was only the beginning, and one of two detainees who died from torture roughly at the same time. Today, about 180 people have died in custody, 38 with "homicide" on their death certificates. Dilawar's torturers tell their story. They took the rap, they repent, but is this justice? What's the bigger picture, the one that's usually glossed over, and the reason Discovery deems this documentary "controversial"?
Alex Gibney dismantles "Torture the American way" just like he did the Enron scandal in "Enron: The smartest guys in the room", from the inside to the bigger inside, like a Russian doll. You will hear the words "war crimes", see the infamous torture memo, Abu Ghraib photos and film, Kiefer Sutherland torturing with electric wires, Guantanamo, Cheney, Rumsfield, Bush and their lawyers wriggling around the t-word and egging on that "we must take our gloves off". "We have to work the dark side, if you will. We're going to spend time in the shadows", says Cheney.
"But... is the dark side stronger?"
"No. Quicker, easier, more seductive. Anger, fear, aggression, the dark side are they.
"Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny."
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