No Stone Unturned is one of the more recent films from arguably the greatest documentarian of the 21st century Alex Gibney. It’s a slight change of pace for the documentarian due to the fact it isn’t an American story or to any real extent involves political events which were created by American involvement. It uses the savage 1994 Loughinisland massacre as jumping off point to examine the what was essential a second civil war in Ireland for 30 years year which is most commonly referred to as “The Troubles”.
Gibney often gets commissioned or choices a subject which he uses as a jumping off point to painting a broader picture of culture or history… a perfect example is his 4 hour documentary on Frank Sinatra which as much about America in the first half of the ’20th century as it was about ‘old blue eyes. Here it’s slightly different because it’s also a murder mystery which has plenty of still unanswered questions which Gibney tries to answer which places in the world of The Thin Blue Line. It’s also abnormal in his filmography because he declares his own personal relationship to the area which is partly what attracted him to the project. He almost always narrates his films but he never injects himself into the action like Michael Moore or Nick Bloomfield.
It does an utterly thorough job of explaining why and how this massacre by UVF in junction with Royal Ulster Constabulary (the local police) along with the British army worked together to carry out the attack and curb any real investigation. They were targeted because UVF thought the pub was a hangout for IRA members and as a form of retaliation for an attack by the IRA which killed some UVF members. It’s an incredibly powerful and angry especially given the victims’ themselves were simply Catholics enjoying the Republic of Ireland playing well in the World Cup.
Overall it’s as fascinating a documentary examination of the Troubles which gets to the heart of the British government’s continued support of their own terrorist unit. It names one of the culprits, it won’t ever be fully solved but the documentary and the recent investigations seem to have given the families of the dead some closure.