Father Roy: Inside the School of the Assassins

The CIA's and the Pentagon's secret torture training revealed.
Year Released
Film Length(s)
57 mins
Closed captioning available
Remote video URL


Risking his life and freedom, the daring actions and personal sacrifices of a Vietnam war hero turned priest, who struggles to find and reveal the truth about a CIA/Pentagon secret torture training school at a US military base. He established SOA (School of Americas) Watch and led grassroots protests with upwards of 25,000 attendees, at the gates of Ft. Benning, where the school is located. In his search he meets and we film (with his face disguised, to protect his anonymity) someone trained in torture at SOA. Before he was filmed the film producer signed an agreement that he knew he would be killed if he disclosed the name of the trainee or where he was filmed.

Featured review

One of the outstanding documentaries of 1997.
Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences
Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences


The struggle to find and reveal the truth about a secret torture training center at the U.S. Army School of the Americas (SOA).

In the documentary Father Roy Bourgeois--a Vietnam war hero--meets three men, each from a different Latin American country, who link SOA to torture training. Two were taught torture techniques at SOA. The third, a victim of that training, found an SOA teaching manual on torture.

In 1996 the White House Intelligence Oversight Board confirmed the explosive charges revealed in this documentary and the Secretary of Defense at the time declared torture training would never happen again. In 2016 Donald Trump called for the return of waterboarding torture as a part of American military intelligence practices.

Under its new name, Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, SOA continues. So does the growing campaign by tens of thousands of college students and others to close it down.

AMPAS, The Motion Picture Academy, declared Father Roy: Inside the School of Assassins was one of the outstanding documentaries of the year it was released. A fictional adaptation of this factually dramatic documentary is in development.

Book the filmmaker with this or other of his films by emailing rrprod@aol.com. Robert Richter has appeared with his work at over 50 universities and colleges.


Powerful...recommended for all video collections.
Stephen L. Hupp
Urbana University Library Journal
A straight ahead, thoughtful exposé... sways you with the facts.
San Francisco Examiner
San Francisco Examiner
Boston Globe
Boston Globe
Dallas Morning News
Dallas Morning News
Grand Rapids Press
Grand Rapids Press
An inspiring tool for education and action.
Report on Guatemala
Report on Guatemala

Awards and Screenings

Human Rights Film Festivals: Amsterdam, Brussels, Seoul, Guatemala, Buenos Aires, New York.
Central Florida (1st Prize)
Columbus (Chris Bronze)
Hot Springs Documentary Festival
Havana (Coral Award)
CINE Golden Eagle
PBS "Global Voices" 2009 series

Director Commentary

I first met the amazing and courageous Father Roy Bourgeois when he came to my office nd asked me to produce a short documentary that would reach ordinary people and alert them to what they could do about their concerns over the nuclear arms race. I produced Gpds of Metal that covered that subject--ranging from passing town meeting resoultions, to refusing to pay a share of your income tax, to quitting a defense job, to civil disobedience. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary. A few years later Roy asked to me produce a film about the U.S.Army School of the Americas (SOA). That documentary won my third Oscar nomination. Then I told Roy it was time for people to learn about him and his search for the truth about SOA. He reluctantly and ultimately agreed--and an incredible, at times dangerous adventure began. My fictional adaptation of the documentary is now in active development.

Features and Languages

Film Features

  • Closed Captioning

Subtitle/Caption Languages

  • English

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