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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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Perhaps there is more than one Michael Winterbottom. The history of cinema is full of Big Reputations built on very short CVs, but this guy must be working on several projects simultaneously and anyone lucky to get close enough will be caught up in the slipstream. He's the I K Brunel of the silver screen. However, Whitecross must have handled the bulk of the work here, and a lucky few at the Bristol Watershed, England, will have met him with the three British protagonists of this adventure (16th March), who relate their experiences intercut with actors and archive footage in what may prove to be the seminal event of 21st Century cinema. It's certainly the most powerful experience you are liable to have in the theatre. This reviewer has not seen it on TV, nor downloaded it to PC, but my guess is that it will retain some of its force. Undoubtedly much of this force is because it's a true story, and one which connects with us all, through our governments' recreation of the Cold War strategy for slicing up the world into areas of influence, and using the artifice of 'bogeymen' (Pinkos, Martians, Yankees, Muslims) to keep the populace down. But the secret of great art is to make it look easy. In lesser hands this could have been an exercise in widescreen bathos. And recognising the gift from real life to the film maker in the scene where one of the guards exposes his cultural commonality with one of these 'dangerous terrorists', asking him to perform a rap, is just one example. The confusion of Afghanistan and Pakistan as the bombs fall and the invaders take over is totally convincing. An eyes-open nightmare full of dust and colliding waves of refugees followed by the interminable grind of terror, insults from thugs and 'cultured' interrogators, boredom and torture suffered by the captives in a situation that Kafka and Orwell could never have imagined. This is a trite comparison, I know, but violence is trite, and banal. If you see any one film this year, make it this one. CLIFF HANLEY
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