Dirty Wars

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Dirty Wars
Dirty Wars film poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Richard Rowley
Produced by Anthony Arnove
Brenda Coughlin
Jeremy Scahill
Screenplay by Jeremy Scahill
David Riker
Based on Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield 
by Jeremy Scahill
Narrated by Jeremy Scahill
Music by David Harrington
Cinematography Richard Rowley
Edited by Richard Rowley
Distributed by Sundance Selects
Release date(s)
  • January 18, 2013 (2013-01-18) (Sundance)
Running time 86 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Box office $371,245[2]

Dirty Wars is a 2013 American documentary film based on the book Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield by Jeremy Scahill. The film is directed by Richard Rowley based on a screenplay written by Scahill and David Riker.


Investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill travels to Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, and other countries where the United States has taken military action. In Afghanistan, he investigates the United States military and government cover-up of the deaths of five civilians, including two pregnant women killed by US soldiers from the Joint Special Operations Command. He also investigates the U.S. assassination of an American citizen named Anwar al-Awlaki. The documentary also shares testimonies from CIA agents, Special Forces operators, military generals, and warlords backed by United States.[3]


Dirty Wars premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival on January 18, 2013. The film competed in the U.S. documentary section,[4] and it won the Cinematography award.[5]

The film was released in four theaters in New York City, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC on June 7, 2013. Over the opening weekend, it grossed an estimated $66,000, a theater average of $16,500.[4]


Critical reception[edit]

Dirty Wars received critical acclaim. Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes certified the film as "fresh" with a score of 84% based on 61 reviews.[6] Metacritic rated the film 76 based on 18 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[7] The film obtained a high score of 7.4 out of 10 from the aggregation of more than 4000 votes at the Internet Movie Database.[8]

Trevor Johnston found the film to be a "gripping investigative doc, which plays out like a classic conspiracy thriller as it follows a trail of clues to the heart of darkness behind President Obama’s good-guy facade. Scahill may not have the screen charisma of a Hollywood leading man, but he has the integrity to keep on pushing at closed doors even after threats are made to his personal security. He also widens his focus to include Yemen and Somalia and draws a pattern of state-sanctioned assassination by unchecked US special forces and their mercenary hirelings."[9]

However, Douglas Valentine found "...the film is so devoid of historical context, and so contrived, as to render it a work of art, rather than political commentary. And as art, it is pure self-indulgence."[10][11]


Dirty Wars was nominated for a 2013 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.[12] The film won the 2013 Golden Reel Award for Best Sound Editing: Sound Effects, Foley, Dialogue, ADR and Music in a Feature Documentary, given by the Motion Picture Sound Editors society.[13]


  1. ^ "DIRTY WARS (15)". BRITDOC Films. British Board of Film Classification. September 10, 2013. Retrieved September 10, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Dirty Wars (2013)". Box Office Mojo. 2013-08-04. Retrieved 2013-08-07. 
  3. ^ "About the Film". dirtywars.org. Retrieved June 10, 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Cunningham, Todd (June 9, 2013). "Independent Box Office: Joss Whedon's 'Much Ado About Nothing' a Record-Breaker". The Wrap. Retrieved June 10, 2013. 
  5. ^ Staff (January 26, 2013). "Sundance 2013: Festival Awards Announced". The Hollywood Reporter. 
  6. ^ "Dirty WArs (2013)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved December 4, 2013. 
  7. ^ "Dirty Wars Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved December 4, 2013. 
  8. ^ "Dirty Wars (2013)". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved June 27, 2014. 
  9. ^ http://www.timeout.com/london/film/dirty-wars
  10. ^ Valentine, Douglas (June 7, 2013). "Dirty Wars and Self-indulgence". Dissident Voice. Retrieved 12 September 2013. 
  11. ^ Corbett, James (June 18, 2013). "Secrets of the Dirty Wars. What Jeremy Scahill Doesn’t Tell You". The Corbett Report. Retrieved 12 September 2013. 
  12. ^ "Nominees for the 86th Oscars". oscars.org. Retrieved January 16, 2014. 
  13. ^ 2014 Golden Reel Award Winners: TV/Feature Animation & Documentary Category

External links[edit]