Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Awful Truth

I filmed the Q&A session after the weekly screening last night (did I mention it is the "Lifetime Screening Room" since that network paid for it...maybe I should shoot a Movie of the Week for them and have it screened at Columbia...) film was Alex Gibney's "Taxi to the Darkside"--which is promoted by the filmmaker himself to be a murder mystery about the man surnamed Dilawar who was falsely accused by an Afghani militant leader and turned over to the U.S. military to be dealt with in the Bagram prison. I must say--yes, very hard to sit through--and I had to wonder how can they show all of this stuff? Well--Gibney was present at the screening and so was the editor Sloane Klevin, along with Tim Golden (NY Times) and Scott Horton (Lawyer/lecturer/writes for Harper's, etc.)...and there was mention that the worst stuff was left on the cutting room floor. But there was a message to be heard, and it wasn't told in a one-sided manipulative way--I felt in terms of presenting the facts and interviewing parties from many sides and respecting those who could have easily been made to look like fools, they handled this deeply traumatizing subject quite skillfully and with necessary honesty. I was apalled and greatly saddened by what I saw. I do not support torture--not of anybody--and the way that those things came to pass was irresponsible, and with surprising awareness on the part of the officials, and yet so many in charge looked the other way. I know that many will say "well--innocent lives sometimes have to be lost in order for the bad ones to be caught"--when there is no allowance for coherence, and there are incessent inhumane abuses how can anyone know who is innocent or guilty? If anything, it only pushes those who are innocent to confess simply to stop the torture. I am reminded of the Salem witch trials, when those who were condemned, yet confessed, were pardoned so that they could "repent", and yet the innocent condemned died when they would not lie. And yes, I am reminded of Hitler's methods when I think of the things done to those prisoners in the name of good. Well, folks, it's not right--not at all. I think this film brings a clearer understanding, and we hear it from the mouths of the soldiers as well as those closest to the detainnees--and the filmmakers father was an interrogator during WWII who at the end of the film speaks saying that he feels in the case of recent events this is not the justice and freedom that he knew and did his job for. Most who read this blog regularly probably won't or should not see the film for the simple reason of its graphic nature, but know that it speaks sad and indelible truths. The question posed lastly from the audience at Columbia last night was "Now that I have been made aware and have been educated in these things, what can I do? What do we do? How can we change the direction the world is moving in?" Horton's response was "shut them down, get them out"--and Golden's response was "wait, it takes time, we have to think, what are the realities here, but yes it must be stopped, and with planning and gradually working we CAN stop it" (please don't take these as word-for-word quotes--just my interpretation of several minutes' discussion). I agree--awareness--and then what? What can I do? What can we do when we feel so powerless in situations that seem uncontrollably wrought with injustice? We do our part to represent the truth and the right--but beyond that, Gibney did mention that there are groups that you can find if you look that are working toward changing aspects of the problem. It does start with individual action, which was how this story was found in the first place (read Tim Golden's stuff about this). We can always share our opinions with our senators, we do have those rights in this country. I do believe in the freedoms and blessings of this great land--but I don't believe what happened in those prisons and similar situations around the world are representative of our core beliefs as Americans or children of God on this earth.

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