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In 2001, four Pakistani Britons, Ruhal Ahmed, Asif Iqbal and Shafiq Rasul and another friend, Monir, travel to Pakistan for a wedding and in a urge of idealism, decide to see the situation of war torn Afganistan which is being bombed by the American forces in retaliation for the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Once there, with the loss of Monir in the wartime chaos, they are captured by Northern Alliance fighters. They are then handed them over the American forces who transport them to the prison camps at the Guantanamo Bay base in Cuba. What follows is three years of relentless imprisonment, interrogations and torture to make them submit to blatantly wrong confessions to being terrorists. In the midst of this abuse, the three struggle to keep their spirits up in that face of this grave injustice. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (email@example.com)
Two of the actors (Riz Ahmed and Farhad Harun) and two of the ex-detainees were detained temporary and interrogated at the airport by the British police when they returned from the Berlinale-festival where the movie got the Silver Bear. According to BBC-news Ahmed said he was asked if he intended to make any more political films. See more »
When one of the "detainees" is first brought into the interrogation tent, a guard accidentally lifts the man's shirt, revealing the wire of a remote microphone. See more »
[rapping to an American guard]
My name's Shafiq Rasul, and I'm from Tipton, I tell them I ain't Taliban, but they don't wanna listen. You won't believe I just came out here, for my mate's wedding, do you? I never thought my ass, would be heading for Cuba.
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Clean cut, sharp and poignant, this is a documentary of those the British press named the "Tipton Three". Three young Englishmen tell their story of a wedding trip to Pakistan and an unplanned journey into Afghanistan. Victims of circumstance, their tale leads to incarceration in Guantanamo Bay and the apparently shocking treatment that ensued.
Whilst the story is told purely from the perspective of the detainees, there is never any point at which you really doubt the content of the film. In no way does the portrayal of events seem exaggerated or biased so as to evoke a stronger reaction from the audience. In parts sequences seem almost void of emotion in terms of their description, and surprisingly, the effect is to make it even more hard hitting. Not overcooking the trauma means what can only be assumed as a factual depiction of horrifying circumstances comes across quite superbly.
There are points where you can question the realism of the young men's decisions. For example, the point from which they want to leave Kabul back for Pakistan only to find themselves trapped with the Taliban is a little scantily dealt with. This may or may not be wholly accurate, and of course they felt compelled to follow those they felt were standing up for their religion, but from the individual interview footage you can't help feel they were impressionable youths just following their noses, lost in the surreal adventure of it all.
Perfectly paced, the film spends just the right amount of time on each area/location of the story. Winterbottom nicely interweaves footage from British television news to prompt recollection of the perspective from which the public saw the events in Afghanistan. And with a good balance of acted reconstruction and subject interview, both the drama and technicalities feel great. Is there no style or subject this man can't handle?
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