Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Indiewire logo

Tribeca Poly Docs: "Taxi," "Belief," "Soldier"

ReelPolitik By Anthony Kaufman | ReelPolitik April 30, 2007 at 2:29AM

Tribeca Poly Docs: "Taxi," "Belief," "Soldier"
0

Here in New York, where much of the Tribeca fest frustratingly takes place miles away from Tribeca, it's hard to get a handle on the program. Since one of my main interests is politics in cinema (here's a short WSJ.com report on the subject), that's been a way for me to sample and sift.

Alex Gibney's "Taxi to the Dark Side," one of the festival's most high-profile docs, doesn't disappoint. As harrowing and upsetting as Rory Kennedy's "Ghosts of Abu Ghraib" -- and covering much of the same territory, with even some of the same interviewees -- "Taxi" nevertheless still gripped me by the throat and never let go. Gibney digs deeper into the torture memo, itemizing such horrendous torture tactics practiced on the "20th hijacker" such as an enema, sexual humiliation, the psychological horrors of sensory deprivation (or "sense dep," as one MP calls it) and forcing him to take water from an I.V. and not allowing him to urinate.

How and why government officials and American people think this is acceptable to do to another human being, even one who desires to kill people (but hasn't), I will never understand. Gibney offers us some possible clues (the culture that breeds "24" and the ludicrous "ticking time bomb" mythology), but the most appalling thing about the film is watching leaders like Alberto Gonzalez, Donald Rumsfeld, John Yoo and other high-ranking military and civilian personnel completely disavow any moral responsiblity for the murdering of innocent people. After watching the movie, I was profoundly upset, couldn't sleep, sense depped myself, plagued with the notion that the cycle of violence perpetuated by the U.S. war machine will only spiral further out of control. If Kennedy's "Abu Ghraib" doc never made much of a stir beyond the walls of HBO, perhaps "Taxi" can create a larger discussion via a much-publicized theatrical release.

"I Am an American Soldier: One Year in Iraq with the 101st Airborne," directed by John Laurence (the famous maker of seminal Vietnam chronicle "The World of Charlie Company") is not a great documentary, but next to "Taxi to the Dark Side," it helps expose the way 9/11 has been exploited by the military to justify their abusive actions overseas. Bookending the film, Col. Mike Steele brings out a World Trade Center flag and rouses the troops, giving them a reason to fight and later applauding their heroic actions on the battlefield -- men whose limbs are lost, and psyches shattered.

If these docs show how war destroys humanity, I guess "Beyond Belief" is the inspiring antidote: the story of two Boston women who, pregnant on 9/11, lost their husbands in the planes that slammed into the World Trade Center and then tried to raise awareness for widows in war-torn Afghanistan. I wept like a baby throughout the film, and while it may sound cheesy, the woman's message is a laudable and largely selfless one: Take 9/11 to look at the root causes of terrorism, use America's overwhelming wealth and privilege to help the less fortunate. "If we can teach love and kindness as oppose to hatred, then that's how terrorism will end," says one of the women.

This article is related to: Political Docs, War

Follow us

E-Mail Updates



Recent Comments

By Bob Connors: The thing to remember is the video has some actual data but it's conclusions are far fetched and inaccurate. This is a Progressive propaghand…

Who is "Politizane" and What's Next for the Income Inequality Viral Video

Mar 21th, 2015 8:47am

By Ostlee: This makes very sad reading - i feel for the people of Maldives. Everyone should boycott the island as a holiday destination until Nasheed…

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 13th, 2015 5:35pm

By Ahmed Shahid: Release the first democratically elected president. The only president of Maldives who has reached the people of Maldives, heard them and…

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 12th, 2015 9:37am

By Hanne Neve: Please take care of your country and the climate by freeing your real selektet president.

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 11th, 2015 9:09am

By Iqbal: Please release President Nasheed

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 10th, 2015 10:27pm

By Martha Robertson: I strongly urge the immediate release of Nasheed!

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 10th, 2015 9:37pm

By Ned Rollins: Bad business, going to bite you.

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 10th, 2015 3:47pm

By John Painter: The guy isnt a terrorist.

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 10th, 2015 12:00pm

By Sofia Vera: I support Presdient Nasheed and add my name to this letter of support for his release.

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 10th, 2015 11:14am

By Margarett R Mulkey: A civilized society is required of the current government of the Maldives. The world is watching injustice and crimes, and many realized thes…

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 10th, 2015 10:53am