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'Taxi to the Dark Side's' Difficult Route to an Oscar

WHEN your cause involves something nobody wants to see, it's a problem -- particularly in Hollywood.

The industry, after all, always has been about moving pictures. But what do you do when those images make people squirm right out of their seats?

That's the problem documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney and other Hollywood activists, concerned about the Bush administration's use of torture in its war on terror, have had to confront from the start.

When Gibney's powerfully shocking and profoundly unsettling documentary "Taxi to the Dark Side" won the Academy Award on Sunday, it was the culmination of an effort on his part and that of supportive organizations such as the ACLU and Amnesty International to mobilize people against what they regard as the unthinkably inhumane treatment of detainees in America's foreign prison camps.

"Truth is, I think my dear wife, Anne, was kind of hoping I would make a romantic comedy," Gibney, a longtime maker of serious documentaries, told the Oscar audience. "But honestly, after Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, 'extraordinary rendition,' that simply wasn't possible."

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