WCW Home Take Action Videos & Reports on Educational Events & Films 3-30-10 Screening of "Taxi to the Dark Side"
3-30-10 Screening of "Taxi to the Dark Side" PDF Print E-mail

By Jordan Palmer

"Taxi to the Dark Side" is a 2007 Academy Award winning documentary focused on
Guantanamo, Bagram and Abu Ghraib to expose the crimes against humanity which take
place in these prisons. Recently, Amnesty International has been asking student
leaders to host film screenings at their schools. I, personally, lead the Amnesty at
the Lakeside School in Seattle, Washington and besides the screening I have hosted,
I’ve attended another one at Mt. Si High School in North Bend, Washington. Of those
I have evaluated, I have made a few observations of common reactions and general
effects of the film on high school students.

First and foremost, everybody wants someone to blame. Even in the first twenty
minutes or so, discussions focus on Lynndie England, and then as the movie
progresses, the blame shifts higher through command and ultimately settles on Donald
Rumsfeld and George W. Bush. One discrepancy, however, lies in the similarities
between the trials and punishments of Guantanamo soldiers and the Nuremberg War
Crime Trials. Sure, they were taking orders, but does this mean what they did wasn’t
wrong? Why should they not be tried like the Nazis? Ultimately, the discussions are
more open-ended than conclusive when it comes to blame; where the real
accomplishment exists is in the forum the film provides for discussion. For a
multitude of factors — be it lack of information or for lack of opportunity, these
conversations are of a variety rarely held openly between high school students. The
fact that this movie alone impassions debates, critique, frustration — to
a group of citizens ignored politically and voiceless in theory, is an impressive
feat. But now that we know what is happening, who is at fault and who is at stake,
and what can we do to stop it?

Unanimously, students—even those inexperienced with activism in general,
immediately want something to do. The worst thing to do for this film screening
would be to show up empty handed. Even if it is just signing a postcard for Barack
Obama calling for an end to torture, students need to feel immediately empowered
and understand that there is something they can do to help end US torture. This film
pinpoints the problem and expresses the results so well that it encourages action,
rather than helpless desperation and depression. Essentially, its depiction of
torture as a contagious disease moves students to be the cure and this is what not
only makes the movie so powerful but resultantly makes it an important movie for
all audiences, but students specifically, to see.

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