Beverley Giesbrecht was a publishing executive and devout Christian living near Vancouver when the events of September 11th changed her life. Within seven months, she converted to Islam and began a journey that took her to the heart of Taliban territory in the mountains of Pakistan.
As a Canadian Muslim convert, Giesbrecht saw herself as a bridge between two warring cultures. Her website Jihad Unspun presented the radical Islamist's views to readers in Canada and the West. Determined to present an alternate view of militant islam, she travelled as a journalist to the most dangerous place on earth – the Taliban-controlled mountains of Pakistan - to make a first person documentary.
But before she could finish her project, she was betrayed and taken captive by Taliban fighters convinced she was an American spy.
This film sets out to investigate the strange circumstances surrounding Beverley’s kidnapping amidst Islamic fundamentalism, shifting allegiances, and political intrigue in the lawless tribal territories on the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Beverley’s story also illuminates why some people in Western societies become drawn to Islamic extremism — sometimes with disastrous consequences.
What drives a woman to swap a business suit for a burqa?
Why would someone abandon a lush seaside home in a wealthy Vancouver suburb for a madrassa in Egypt? And turn to Salafi Islam?
We ask what authorities knew once it was clear Beverley had been kidnapped. And why they appeared to give up trying to find out what had happened to her.
With exclusive access to the video footage shot by Beverley herself, we follow her journey into the heart of the Taliban. And her transformation from an admirer and defender of jihadist Islamism to disillusionment - until her final betrayal by her Taliban protector.
At its heart, The Woman Who Joined the Taliban is the tragic story of a lost woman looking for meaning and a home -- but who walks into hell. Beverley was never able to bring home the film she meant to make. This film will bring her extraordinary story to light.
2015 - 1 hour documentary
Producer: Vanessa Dylyn
Executive Producers: Vanessa Dylyn and André Singer
Director: Kai Lawrence
Writer: Richard O'Regan
Editor: Kathryn Dickson
Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit
Ontario Film and Television Tax Credit