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Taxi to the Dark Side

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Title: Taxi to the Dark Side  
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Subject: Alex Gibney, Torturing Democracy, Extrajudicial prisoners of the United States, 80th Academy Awards, List of American films of 2007
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Taxi to the Dark Side

Taxi to the Dark Side
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Alex Gibney
Produced by Alex Gibney
Eva Orner
Susannah Shipman
Written by Alex Gibney
Music by Ivor Guest
Robert Logan
Edited by Sloane Klevin
Distributed by THINKFilm
Release dates
  • April 30, 2007 (2007-04-30)
Running time 106 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Mugshot of taxi driver Dilawar at the Bagram prison where he died.

Taxi to the Dark Side is a 2007 documentary film directed by American filmmaker Alex Gibney, and produced by Eva Orner and Susannah Shipman, which won the 2007 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.[1] It focuses on the killing of an Afghan taxi driver named Dilawar,[2] beaten to death by American soldiers while being held in extrajudicial detention at the Parwan Detention Facility.

Taxi to the Dark Side examines the USA's policy on torture and interrogation in general, specifically the CIA's use of torture and their research into sensory deprivation. The film includes opposition to the use of torture from its political and military opponents, as well as the defense of such methods; attempts by Congress to uphold the standards of the Geneva Convention forbidding torture; and popularization of the use of torture techniques in shows such as 24.

It is part of the Why Democracy? series, which consists of ten documentary films from around the world questioning and examining contemporary democracy. As part of the series, Taxi to the Dark Side was broadcast in over 30 different countries around the world from October 8–18, 2007. The BBC cut the film to 79 minutes for broadcast.


The film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York on April 28, 2007.[3]

Reception and awards

Taxi to the Dark Side appeared on some critics' top ten lists of the best films of 2008. Premiere magazine named it the fifth best film of 2008,[4] and Bill White of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer named it the seventh best film of 2008.[4] The film also scored 100% for critic approval, out of 91 reviews, on Rotten Tomatoes.[5]

It was named by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as one of 15 films on its documentary feature Oscar shortlist in November 2007.[6][7] On February 24, 2008, in his acceptance speech for the "Best Documentary Feature" Academy Award, Gibney said:

This is dedicated to two people who are no longer with us, Dilawar, the young Afghan taxi driver, and my father, a navy interrogator who urged me to make this film because of his fury about what was being done to the rule of law. Let’s hope we can turn this country around, move away from the dark side and back to the light.[8]

It also won a Peabody Award in 2007 "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."[9]

Controversies and legal disputes

In June 2007, the Discovery Channel bought the rights to broadcast Taxi to the Dark Side. However, in February 2008, it made public its intention never to broadcast the documentary due to its controversial nature.[10] HBO then bought rights to the film and announced that it would be broadcast in September 2008, after which the Discovery Channel announced it would broadcast Taxi to the Dark Side in 2009.

In June 2008, Gibney's company filed for arbitration, arguing that THINKFilm failed to properly distribute and promote the film.[11][12] He is suing for over a million dollars in damages. Gibney stated that the film has only grossed $280,000.

See also


  1. ^ "Taxi to the Dark Side: Combined details".  
  2. ^  
  3. ^ Beckey Bright (April 28, 2007). "Director Explores 'Dark Side' Of U.S. Treatment of Detainees".  
  4. ^ a b "Metacritic: 2008 Film Critic Top Ten Lists".  
  5. ^ "Rotten Tomatoes review of Taxi to the Dark Side".  
  6. ^ "80th Annual Academy Awards Nominees".  
  7. ^ "Shortlist for docu Oscar unveiled". The Hollywood Reporter. 2007-11-20. Retrieved 2007-12-21. 
  8. ^ UCLA Magazine
  9. ^ 67th Annual Peabody Awards, May 2008.
  10. ^ Democracy Now! 12 Feb 2008 transcript, retrieved on 12 Feb 2008.
  11. ^ Christine Kearney (2008-06-26). "US documentary maker seeks damages over Oscar film".  
  12. ^ Charles Lyons (June 26, 2008). "Filmmaker Says Distributor Failed Him".  

External links

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