Standard Operating Procedure

Opens April 25, 2008

Errol Morris' new, fascinating documentray, “Standard Operating Procedure,” winner of the Silver Bear Award at the 2008 Berlin Film Festival, concerns a series of photographs that changed the world, changed the war, and changed Americas self and collective image.

It's likely that in the future, these photographs in all likelihood will define the war in Iraq in particular, three iconic photographs taken by soldiers in the 372nd MP Company Lynndie England posing with a prisoner on a leash; the Hooded Man standing on a box with wires attached to his fingers; and the pyramid of naked prisoners.

In his new film, Morris shows how the photographs served as both an expose and a cover-up. An expose, because the photographs offered us a glimpse of the horror of what was happening at Abu Ghraib; but cover-up because they seduced people into thinking what they saw was an aberration limited to a few rouge soldiers on the nightshift.

As always with Morris' poignant documentaries, the new one explores the context of these photographs. Abu Ghraib was a dangerous, disordered place. Understaffed, undersupplied, under unremitting mortar attack, but nonetheless, it was no accident that these abuses happened.

Hence, he asks relevant questions about the overt story as well as questions about the behind-the-scenes stories of the photographs. Why were they taken What was happening outside the frame

Many people knew about the photographs but no one knew what the photographs were about. Morris goal here was to talk to the soldiers who took the photographs and who were in the photographs to understand the photographs and the people who took them.

Not neglecting the human element, the docu is also about a group of young people sent to war. As such, it is a war story, a story of a cover-up, and a story of how a small group of lowly soldiers were blamed for policy decisions and a war out of control. Abu Ghraib was a world in which almost no one was trained for the tasks they were asked to perform, where everyone knew what was going on, and where no one wanted to blow the whistle. A world in which the rules were torn up, a world in which law was redefined as a lawlessness.

Morris has said: My last film, 'The Fog of War, was about a person that was at the apex of power, Robert McNamara. With this new one, I wanted to make a film about the people at the bottom of the pyramid, 'the little guys. A story that I think the world needs to see and hear.


Sony Pictures Classics, in association with Participant Productions presents an Errol Morris film.
Executive Producers: Jeff Skoll, Diane Weyermann, Martin Levin, Julia Sheehan, Robert Fernandez.
Produced by Julie Bilson Ahlberg and Errol Morris.
Original music by Danny Elfman.
Production Design by Steve Hardie.
Editing: Karen Schmeer, Andy Grieve, Brad Fuller, Daniel Mooney, Steven Hathaway and Charles Silver.
Camera: Robert Chappell and Robert Richardson.

Sony Classics will open the picture theatrically in select U.S. cities on April 25th and nationally throughout May.

In addition, a book by Philip Gourevitch and Errol Morris will be published by Penguin with the release of the film later this Spring.