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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 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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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A shocking story told exceedingly well. (In my opinion!)
This docu-drama focuses on the story of the 'Tipton Three' - young guys from Birmingham who went to Pakistan to organise a wedding, decided to pop over to Afghanistan (I can only assume through naivety, ignorance and a misguided sense of adventure) to 'help' (though it appeared that little effort was made) and ended up getting embroiled in the conflict, captured with Taliban fighters and subsequently picked up by US Marines for the crime of speaking English in a foreign country. From this point 'til their release, they are essentially told that they are Al Qaeda in the hope that they'll admit to what is obviously not true.
If you can put yourself in their places, this is a harrowing film. (I spent a lot of it with my hand over my mouth...!) Being in a situation where you are being bullied and tortured - via some truly horrible methods and treatment - into admitting you're something you're not, with no means of proving your innocence must be...well, I can only imagine. I have every respect with the way they seemed to deal with it, especially given the candid way they discuss it in the documentary inserts that regularly appear throughout the movie.
For those who think it's unbalanced: I understand. However, it is THEIR story. Certain troops are shown in a human light, though let's face it: from what the film tells us, we're dealing with a situation involving the US equivalent of the SS You want the other side of the story? Listen to any George W. Bush press conference.
The acting is natural, the story flows, some of the shots are dramatically documentary-like and I felt that it fully deserved the praise it's received. Sadly, I feel that the only people who will watch this are the ones who are aware of the issues already, while middle-America will, I dare say, completely ignore it. Either way, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend spending 95 minutes of your time taking it all in. Sleeping afterwards might be a problem though. It was for me.
62 of 79 people found this review helpful.
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