Richard Rowley and Jeremy Scahill
Although most categories are up for grabs, Best Documentary Feature is one of those categories that is almost unpredictable this year with the way things turned out. With no fan favorites like “Blackfish” or “Stories We Tell”, it really is anyone’s came. So even “Dirty Wars” could pull off a win, even though I personally do not find that likely. Investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill, known for his book “Blackwater”, tells the story of his trip to Afghanistan, as he delves into the mystery of unsanctioned U.S. Army night raids. Despite his over-dramatic narration, the interviews he has with many of the people involved are very informative. The Army veteran that he interviews states the premise best when he describes the “kill list” system of the Army and how they start with 300 names on the list and once those men have been killed, suddenly they have a new “kill list”, but this one has 1,000 names on it, to which they have pissed off through the work done and mistakes made through the first list. The film hits several marks of being fascinating and informing the public, but Jeremy tries way too hard to get the audience to take his side, not offering up any unbiased materials for the audience to make their own decision. Along with that, he tosses elements at us that are geared to make us feel something, like little Afghan girls telling us that their family members were killed. I do not want to sound heartless, but this is a very obvious approach and the sign of a weak film-maker. As the film just ends without any punctuation or real conclusion, the film feels unfinished. With several more documentaries to go, I can already tell their is room for improvement and with all the buzz about “The Act Of Killing”, I have a feeling “Dirty Wars” will not be our Oscar winner this year.
// Produced by Anthony Arnove, Brenda Coughlin, and Jeremy Scahill // Directed by Richard Rowley //
// Dated Viewed: Monday, January 27th, 2014 // NETFLIX INSTANT // 30 films – 35 days //