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Taxi To The Dark Side - Preview and Tribeca win

Taxi To The Dark Side

Preview by Jack Foley

A FILM that seeks to expose the Bush administration’s policies on prison torture has won the best documentary at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival (2007).

Taxi to the Dark Side looks at the treatment of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, Iraq and Afghanistan.

It’s a documentary murder-mystery that examines the death of an Afghan taxi driver at Bagram Air Base from injuries inflicted by US soldiers.

Directed by Alex Gibney, the filmmaker behind the critically-acclaimed and Oscar-nominated Enron: the Smartest Guys in the Room, the film takes viewers from a village in Afghanistan to the White House via Guantanamo.

It’s filmed in English and Pashtu and drew rave reviews from journalists at the New York-based festival.

Aside from writing and directing Enron, Gibney executive produced No End in Sight, which premiered at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival.

And he’s currently working on Gonzo, a film about Hunter S Thompson and Burning Down The House, for Participant and Magnolia Pictures.

His other credits include The Trials of Henry Kissinger (as writer and producer) and Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues (as producer).

Taxi To The Dark Side was one of several political films that reflected current events to be screened at this year’s festival – the annual event co-founded by actor Robert De Niro after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 with a view to revitalising lower Manhattan.

Another short film Someone Else’s War won the 2007 Student Visionary Award for the way in which it showcased the army of low-wage workers imported from South and Southeast Asia to cook food, wash laundry and deliver fuel to US troops abroad.

And A Story of People In War And Peace earned Vardan Hovhannisyan the Best New Documentary Filmmaker prize. The film is a deeply personal meditation on the horrors of war and its effects a shown through the eyes of Armenian journalist Hovhannisyan.

It weaves together footage from his country’s 1994 conflict with neighbouring Azerbaijan over the Nagoma Karabakh region and creates a devastating portrait of lasting damage inflicted by the battlefield.

Further Tribeca awards

Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst won the Made In NY feature film prize for his directorial debut, The Education of Charlie Banks, a potent coming-of-age drama about confronting one’s fears starring Jesse Eisenberg.

Marina Hands was named best actress for her role in Lady Chatterley, a French version of the DH Lawrence novel which has also won best film at the Cesars (France’s equivalent of the Oscars).

And Lofti Edbelli was named best actor for his portrayal of a breakdancer who falls in with a fundamentalist group in Tunisian film Making Of.

The same film – written and directed by Nori Bouzid – took the best screenplay prize.

Jewish drama My Father My Lord, which follows an Orthodox Rabbi struggling to keep his faith and family, won the award for best narrative feature.

Andrew Piddington’s The Killing of John Lennon won special jury recognition. The film offers a disturbing glimpse into the mind of John Lennon’s killer, Mark David Chapman, during the days leading up to his confrontation with the rock legend outside the Dakota.

The film lifts lines verbatim from Chapman’s own journal, thereby giving actor Jonas Ball’s performance an extra eerie edge.