Early in The Man Behind the Curtain, Doug Laux’s new documentary about revealing himself to family and friends as a former CIA case officer, we see him as a young boy telling a joke in a school auditorium. It’s a kid joke, corny and silly, recorded on a home camcorder. The video could have been done by any proud parent at any school in America in the 1980s. Growing up in an economically pressed farm town in the Midwest, Doug went off to college figuring he would pattern himself after the most successful man he knew – the local optometrist.
The Man Behind the Curtain at the Silicon Beach Film Festival, Sept. 15, at the TCL Chinese Theatres.
If it weren’t for 9/11, Doug might have spent the rest of his life doing eye exams and prescribing glasses for his neighbors. But 21 years ago, the attacks altered the course of Doug’s life, and he decided to join the CIA.
Doug is a friend; I got to know him through a long-delayed podcast on the Black Dahlia. He is a determined fellow and when he joined the CIA, he embraced his assignment fully. To penetrate the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, he read the Koran daily, learned Pashto, and dressed as a native of Afghanistan.
Rather than a chronicle of Doug’s years in the CIA, The Man Behind the Curtain looks at his retransition back to civilian life. After years of “living his cover,” claiming to work on a fishing boat operating out of Hawaii, Doug takes a video crew along as he tells his parents and his friends what he was actually doing.
You might recall that Doug wrote Left of Boom, about his CIA experiences. The Man Behind the Curtain takes a tough, caustic view of how various outlets of the American news media tried to spin his book to conform to their philosophy. Shall we say the interview with Fox didn’t go well? It didn’t go well.
In June, The Man Behind the Curtain won first prize for documentary at the Pasadena International Film Festival. It’s showing in the 2 p.m. block on Thursday, Sept. 15, at the TCL Chinese 6 Theaters. It is definitely worth your time.