Winner 2007

Taxi to the Dark Side

Jigsaw Pictures, Tall Woods, Wider Film Projects, ZDF/ARTE

The hideous death of an Afghani taxi driver while in U.S. military custody in 2002 gave director Alex Gibney the central thread of this searing documentary—an exploration of how the disgraceful abuses of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo could happen. The cabbie, named Dilawar, was arrested for allegedly being a party to rocket attacks on American troops. Five days into his interrogation, he was dead, his legs beaten to a literal pulp. Gibney conducts frank, on-camera interviews with American soldiers, some of whom faced courts-martial for their roles in the death of a man later proven to be the innocent victim of Afghani bounty-seekers. Gibney doesn’t absolve the servicemen, but he puts their brutality into perspective by backtracking up the chain of command, all the way to the Pentagon, the Justice Department and the White House. He demonstrates how glib, gloves-off rhetoric and the official sanctioning of harsher techniques “spread and mutated like a virus” in the field among military personnel who weren’t so much “bad apples” as simply ill-trained and under extreme pressure. For its sober, meticulous argument that what happened to a hapless Afghani was not an aberration but, rather, the inevitable result of a consciously approved, widespread policy, Taxi to the Dark Side receives a Peabody Award.


Executive producers: Don Glascoff, Robert Johnson, Sidney Blumenthal, Jedd Wider, Todd Wider. Producers: Alex Gibney, Eva Orner, Susanna Shipmann, Hans Robert Eisenhauer. Writer/Director: Alex Gibney. Editor: Sloane Klevin. Camera: Maryse Alberti, Greg Andracke. Music: Ivor Guest, Robert Logan. Sound: Felix Andrew.