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Beverly Geishbrecht in EgyptBeverley Giesbrecht in Egypt

The Woman Who Joined The Taliban is the personal and tragic story of a woman’s quest for truth amidst the global war on terrorism.

Beverley Giesbrecht is a publishing executive and devout Christian living near Vancouver, when the events of September 11th change her life. Within seven months, she converts to Islam and begins a journey that takes her to the heart of Taliban territory in the mountains of Pakistan.

Listen to an interview with Kai Lawrence, the director and Glen Cooper who was a close friend of Beverley Giesbrecht's on The Current.

As a Canadian Muslim convert, Giesbrecht sees herself as a bridge between two warring cultures.  Her website Jihad Unspun presents the radical Islamist's views to readers in Canada and the West.  Determined to present an alternate view of militant Islam, she travels 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 can finish her project, she is betrayed and taken captive by Taliban fighters who are convinced she is 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.

Scene from the film: Beverley Giesbrecht is captured

Beverley’s story will also illuminate 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?

Beverly Geisbrecht wearing a burqaBeverley Giesbrecht wearing a burqa.

We will ask what authorities knew once it was clear Beverley had been kidnapped, and why they appeared to give up on 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 disillusioned victim, 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.

Credits (Click to expand)

The Woman Who Joined the Taliban

executive producers
Vanessa Dylyn
André Singer

Vanessa Dylyn

Kai Lawrence

directors of photography
Stan Barua CSC
Michael Grippo CSC

writer and story editor
Richard O’Regan

story development
Barry Stevens

Kathryn Dickson

Curt Petrovich

Jim McGrath

sound recordists
Jiri Bakala
Phil Brouwer
Dave Hechenberger
Riley McMaster
Pete Wonsiak
Mario Mooney
Sana Ullah

additional photography
Ali Faisal Zaidi

Habibullah Khan

production managers
Roberta J. Pazdro
André Czernohorsky

production coordinators
Andrew Edmonds
Irina Grozavescu
Adam Turner

camera assistants
Arnold Caylakyan
Andrew Edmonds
Clark Henderson

production assistants
Marc Nadeau
Tony Flello

business affairs/production accountant
André Czernohorsky

legal counsel
Kate Henderson

post production coordinator
Andrew Edmonds

assistant editor
Barbara Nunes

visual research
Marilyn Fabrizio
Andrew Edmonds
Samantha Pirner

Marilyn Fabrizio
Matt Lehner
Samantha Pirner

Kazim Rizvi
Zarmina Sharani
Ghazala Malik

Hugo von Levetzow

online editor
Steve Lahey

motion graphics
Phil Praites

post audio
Kevin Ferrier

archival and stock footage
Al Jazeera Dining With Terrorists 2009
CBC The National
Department of National Defence, Canada
Courtesy of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum / NARA
Glenbow Museum
Particle Films
©Crown Copyright National Archives OGL ver.3
Ministry of Defence London, UK

footage courtesy of creative commons
Easter Bunny
Defence Imagery Management Operations Center, MD, USA

special thanks
Aki Nawaz
Alex & Jennifer Tunner
Peter Ladner
Claude Adams
Yvonne Ridley
Myron Dylynsky
Susan Baker
Rahimullah Yusufzai

for the CBC

director of production
Alexandra Lane

director of finance
Julie Lawlor

executives in charge of production
Charlotte Engel
Michael Claydon

executive director
Documentary Programming
Mark Starowicz

executive director
Unscripted Content
Jennifer Dettman

Produced by Talibev Films Inc.

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