Taxi to the Dark side is a 2007 documentary produced by critically acclaimed film makers Alex Gibney, Eva Orner and Susannah Shipman. This film focuses on the killing of an Afghan taxi driver Dilawar back in December 2002 who was beaten to death while being held in detention at Parwan Detention centre which caused an uproar around the world. As a result over the last ten years the United States policy on torture has been closely examined with a special focus on what the CIA is doing behind closed doors; a debate which is still going on nearly 10 years after this documentary was made.
This episode was made in a series by the BBC called “Why Democracy?”. It raises important questions about the actions of seemingly democratic governments behind a veil of secrecy and without the consent of the general public, of course until it was leaked by the media but the damage had already been done, the extent of which may never be full uncovered. Taxi to the Dark side looks directly at the CIA’s use and exploration of sensory deprivation techniques and torture to supposedly get information from political and military targets in a bid to strengthen the defence of the United States.
The documentary raised a huge amount of awareness about Navy negotiator Dilawar who died while in prison, as it agained critical acclaim and is considered by may critiques to be one of the best films of 2008. Notably the film scored a 100% score on the site Rotten tomatoes and was put on the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as one of 15 films on its documentary feature Oscar shortlist in November 2007.
Ultimately the Taxi to the Dark side documentary was meant to highlight more than just the story of Dilawar since the aforementioned torture techniques went way beyond him which is probably why before his death he urged his son to make the film because of what was being done under the law. No matter how meaningful the message of the film is, alike a number of documentaries it involved legal disputes. The discovery channel bought the rights to broadcast it; not long after they said they would never show it again because of its graphic narrative. The filmmakers sued Thinkfilm for over 1 million dollars in 2008 with the claim that the film had not been distributed properly since it only grossed at $280,000 and probably didn't make the impact on public understanding that it probably should have.