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Doug Liman's "Reckoning With Torture": Reconciling Americans' Complicity in War on Terror

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by Anthony Kaufman
February 16, 2012 9:12 AM
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Since America's "War on Terror" has slipped from the headlines, our collective memory of the torture and atrocities committed by the U.S. has also seemed to subside. We've seen Alex Gibney's "Taxi to the Dark Side," Errol Morris's "Standard Operating Procedure," Michael Winterbottom's "The Road to Guantanamo" and Rory Kennedy's "Ghosts of Abu Ghraib," just to name a few. But was that enough to alleviate our collective guilt? Not really. With Doug Liman's new project "Reckoning With Torture: Memos and Testimonies From the 'War On Terror,'” Americans aren't watching the events unfold from the outside, but personally taking account of the atrocities by reading testimonials of torture from witnesses and victims.

Currently in production from the director of "The Bourne Identity" and "Mr and Mrs. Smith," the movie will combine video clips submitted by the public with filmed stage performances featuring actors like Robert Redford, Dianne Wiest and America Ferrera, as well as writers, former interrogators and military officers.
 
From today's press release:

The product of a partnership between Liman, the American Civil Liberties Union, and PEN American Center, the film is built around a script constructed from declassified government documents detailing the abuse of prisoners in U.S. custody since the September 11 terrorist attacks. The visceral sequence of readings reveals both the human cost of America’s post-9/11 torture program and the heroic struggle of many soldiers and intelligence officers to stop the abuse.""
 
“I signed on to the 'Reckoning' project because I’m convinced that the struggle for accountability for torture is one of the major moral tests of our lifetimes,” Liman said. “I was amazed by the power of the material to persuade and move live audiences. I was hoping that the popularity and success of my feature films would bring new audiences to the Reckoning experience, and I was excited to explore the ways in which the process of making a film could itself become an educational and organizing tool. I can’t wait to see where people take this.”
 
On ReckoningWithTorture.org <http://www.reckoningwithtorture.org/> , Liman explains the submission process in a short introductory video. Visitors can view clips of the film’s 11 scenes and choose one to film, follow quick tips and instructions for filming, and upload their footage to Liman’s production team. The clips will be posted on the Reckoning website and YouTube, where audiences around the world can follow the film in progress.
 
This fall, Liman will select the best submissions and intercut them with footage from the staged performances to create a feature-length movie that stars Americans from all walks of life standing alongside prominent cultural figures to read the record of this country’s torture program.

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