by co-writer and journalist Jeremy Scahill
People often ask me about the connection between our film Dirty Wars and my new book of the same name. How are the stories related? Is the film based on the book or vice-versa? In reality, while sharing a name, and similar concerns, each explores in its own, different way what I consider to be the most important story of our time, the declaration that "the world is a battlefield" and that the president of the United States can operate without meaningful Congressional oversight or public scrutiny. In going on this journey, the film became a much more personal exploration of the stories I report on in my book. And the film also explores—in ways that at first I was uncomfortable sharing publicly—how I personally have coped with what it means to be a journalist covering these wars.
We are always humbled when the credits to our film roll in theaters. The list of people we thank and whose work we acknowledge is a long one. But we wanted to be sure to acknowledge all of them because this film is as much theirs as it is ours. Every film is a collective and collaborative effort. But in documentaries filmed in war zones you face distinct challenges.
When people ask us about our safety in filming in various areas of intense conflict, and the risks we face as journalists, we are quick to point out that the people taking far greater risks, the real heroes of our film, are the journalists and many other translators and field producers who helped us but who remain and cannot leave like we can.
Even though we can physically leave and return to the United States, these stories have stayed with us. A number of amazing families let us into their homes, put their trust in us, and shared some of their most painful personal moments, in the hope that people in the United States might hear their stories.
One of the most powerful moments for us in watching Dirty Wars comes toward the end of our movie. At first, we didn't even realize it, but when we first saw Dirty Wars in a movie theater, projected on a big screen, we realized that you can see myself and director Richard Rowley in the reflection of a young girl looking into the camera and observing us. That elemental connection is profoundly important to us. And it is at the heart of the story we are trying to tell about an interconnected world where we must learn to see our common humanity.
Dirty Wars is for us the beginning of a new journey. By screening the film across the country, and traveling to as many theaters as we can for discussions, we hope to participate in a long overdue conversation in our country about the nature of our wars and about our future.
Thank you for opening your hearts to the people in our film and joining us in this dialogue.