DXIFF 2021 Review: 3212 Un-Redacted

Written by Taylor Baker


Brian Epstein’s 3212 Un-Redacted presents a damning expose on the betrayal, cover-up, and conspiracy that occurred in October 2017. Deployed in Niger ODA(Operational Detachment Alpha) 3212 who were tasked against their Captain’s recommendation with pursuing a significant target in Tongo Tongo by their AFRICOM leadership. The secret sauce to the conspiracy? They were accompanied by CIA agents tasked with assassinating DounDoun Cheffou. The presence of these agents was redacted from all public and official documentation of what happened that day. Instead, we learn that AFRICOM labeled them in their presentation of what occurred that day as an unassuming “truck number three” with no real difference or distinction between them and any other truck within the presentation.

So why were they framed? Why did leadership lie? And how do we know for sure what is true? That’s the trick. We can’t get absolute truth about the series of events due to the redaction of the information. Epstein in conjunction with James Gordon Meek paints a damning examination of what can be asserted with absolute fact and what can be assumed based on the unredacted paper trail and soldiers who had worked alongside with ODA 3212. We know it was in the best interest of leadership to cover up a failed assassination mission where the captain told his superiors that he didn’t think the mission could be executed. We know they smeared a member of 3212 for allowing what occurred to happen despite him being in the United States to watch the birth of his daughter. And we know that the true events of the day have been put under a 25-year redaction.

The members of ODA 3212 that were on mission passed away that day in a firefight against an enormous force. They were wearing body cams and the film is compromised of large portions of those fateful minutes where each member was shot in gripping presentation and depressing detail. The documentary painstakingly shows the day-to-day lives of the family members that the fallen ODA members are survived by in conjunction with ABC Investigative journalist James Gordon Meek walking us through not only the details of the day. But the decisions made by different positions of power within the military to cover it up.

There’s a hard limit to how much we can know due to the top-down denial that accompanied the mission from the start. How could 3212 be out on an unsanctioned assassination mission when less than a day before the mission their Captain had asked to wait? Why weren’t any of the requested and available US support teams deployed? Why did the French display the show of force to eventually drive back the insurgents? We may not know now, but we should learn more in 2046. Unfortunately, many of the parents of the fallen soldiers may not be alive for answers then. 3212 Un-Redacted isn’t a glossy, shiny, overproduced documentary, it’s a gritty documentary composed of investigative rigor and direct presentation. It’s the type of documentary that reminds you there are still great journalists working in the medium of film.

3212 Un-Redacted Trailer

3212 Un-Redacted was screened as part of the 2021 edition of the Double Exposure Investigative Film Festival and is currently streaming on Hulu.

You can follow more of Taylor’s thoughts on LetterboxdTwitter, and Rotten Tomatoes.

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