September Tapes (2004)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

September Tapes Videos

September Tapes Photos

Movie Info

Commercial director Christian Johnston makes his feature film debut with the dramatic thriller September Tapes. The story takes place in Afghanistan, one year after the events of September 11. American journalist Don Larson (George Calil) and his two companions travel to Kabul in order to investigate the search for Osama bin Laden. After meeting with members of the Northern Alliance, he is arrested for taking photographs. While he's incarcerated, Don learns about a bounty hunter named Babak who may be able to help them. September Tapes premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2004 as part of the American Spectrum competition.
Action & Adventure , Documentary , Drama , Mystery & Suspense , Special Interest
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:

Watch it now


George Calil
as Don Larson
Wali Razaqi
as Wali Zarif
C.K. Smith
as Commander
Baba Jon
as Rahman
General Dil Agha
as Northern Alliance Commander
Dawood Zarif
as Guard/Gun Dealer
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for September Tapes

All Critics (34) | Top Critics (14)

Eventually collapses under the weight of its no-budget arrogance, but it goes some interesting places beforehand.

Full Review… | November 23, 2011
Boston Globe
Top Critic

Johnston's rough-hewn handheld footage generates a sense of dread as a defining force behind the camera, more concrete than any onscreen images.

September 30, 2004
Hollywood Reporter
Top Critic

Afghanistan shouldn't be used as a backdrop for some director's selfish attempt at provocation.

Full Review… | September 24, 2004
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic

The film itself still feels faked, and its calculated exploitation of some real tragedies may be the most unbelievable thing of all.

September 24, 2004
Newark Star-Ledger
Top Critic

The whole notion of exploiting a war and its victims to shoot a commercial feature is reprehensible.

September 24, 2004
New York Daily News
Top Critic

Squanders incredible verisimilitude by undercutting it with credibility-defying storytelling.

Full Review… | September 24, 2004
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for September Tapes


An interesting idea, but it is delivered in that fake documentary, shakey, hand-held video camera style. Good footage of the Afghanistan/Pakistan countryside, and some pretty good combat scenes...but the entire reason that he was supposed to be there was lost to me. Had he lost his mind? All he really accomplished was to be the cause of more senseless killings. I have to say, though, that I was left with a sickened feeling after watching this..even knowing all along that it wasn't real.

Cynthia S.
Cynthia S.

Super Reviewer


One of my favorite movies of all time believe it or not. This movie draws you in from the beginning, and since it is films on location in the Middle East, you find yourself forgetting that it is a mockumentary and not a documentary. Mocku/Documentaries are my favorite genre, and this is one of the best.. When I go to rent a movie I intentionally skip past the major titles to the bottom shelf to find gems like this..

Ryan Schlotter
Ryan Schlotter

[img][/img] September Tapes is a film that claims to be a documentary to sucker you in, but instead is a poorly acted, unrealistic movie that takes advantage of a very serious event. When September 11th happened, I know everyone who had a soul in The US was deeply saddened and wanted nothing more then to catch the horrible people who took 3,000 innocent lives. In this "documentary," filmmaker Don Larsen, who in real life is George Calil, is on a mission to hunt down Osama Bin Laden with a translator/guide, and a 16 year old cameraman. Only this "documentary" doesn't even border reality. Somehow, these three men are the only Westerners to make it as far as they have come, and throughout the film we see them act as soldiers themselves as they try and shoot down Afghani rebels to get to their ultimate goal of tracking down Osami Bin Laden. It gets to the point where Larsen actually has a camera in one hand, and is shooting with the other, making it look more like a first-person shooter video game, then an expedition to try and get some answers on the whereabouts of Bin Laden. 9/11 is a very drastic event that should be taken pretty seriously and the last thing I want are some C-rate actors making a mochary of it to make some money. I'm sure their intention wasn't to piss people off, but the fact that they claim for the film to be a documentary when it really isn't, makes September Tapes a shitty war version of [i]The Blair Witch Project, [/i]and frankly, I'm not impressed.

Matt B
Matt B

September Tapes Quotes

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

Discussion Forum

Discuss September Tapes on our Movie forum!

News & Features