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Midday Movies: ‘Dirty Wars’

Journalist Jeremy Scahill On His New Documentary About America’s Covert Wars

Trailer: "Dirty Wars"

Trailer for the documentary, "Dirty Wars."

Beth Accomando, KPBS Arts Reporter
Jeremy Scahill, Journalist and Author of "Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army" and "Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield"


Journalist Jeremy Scahill wrote the bestseller "Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army." Now his book "Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield," opening June 21 at Landmark's Hillcrest Cinemas, hits theaters as a documentary feature.

"Dirty Wars" follows investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill as he looks into America's wars in places such as Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia. Although a documentary, "Dirty Wars" delivers an engrossing narrative that pulls the viewer in with thriller-like intensity. The film follows Scahill on a journey as he pursues his story around the globe. It begins with a deadly U.S. night raid in Afghanistan that quickly turns into a global investigation of the secretive Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). The JSOC teams are described as being able to "find, fix and finish" their targets, who are picked through a secret process. No target is off limits for their "kill list," including U.S. citizens.

The film is as engrossing and chilling as any action or political thriller Hollywood has produced. While it relies on mostly interviews to tell its story, the film employs such a cinematic visual style that it never feels like just a series of talking heads. It unfolds like a detective story.

Scahill is the National Security Correspondent for The Nation. Nation Books released his second book, "Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield" in April. For the documentary version, Scahill served as writer and producer. The film was co-written by David Riker and directed by Rick Rowley. The film took home the Cinematography Award for U.S. Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival 2013.

Photo caption: Journalist Jeremy Scahill (with sunglasses) in the documentary, "Dirty Wars/"

Photo credit: IFC

Journalist Jeremy Scahill (with sunglasses) in the documentary, "Dirty Wars/"

Scahill has reported from Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Nigeria, Yemen, the former Yugoslavia and additional places. His work has prompted several Congressional investigations as well as won some of journalism’s highest honors.

The film has received criticism from such sources as The Corbett Report, and from author and poet Douglas Valentine.

Scahill calls himself a "movie junkie" and suggests seeking out the following documentary films as companion viewing for "Dirty Wars:" "Resterpo," "The Invisible War," "5 Broken Cameras" and "The Gatekeepers." He also recommends the narrative film "Spy Game" with Robert Redford and Brad Pitt.


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