Monday, June 19, 2006

The Road to Guantanamo

Last night, we went to see a sneak preview of the movie, The Road to Guantanamo, at the Harmony Gold Preview House. This movie is a must-see, seriously. I highly recommend it.

It's a documentary plus dramatization, directed by Michael Winterbottom (same guy who directed 24 Hour Party People, a favorite of Dead Boy's), about three Pakastani British Muslim youths who were at the wrong place at the wrong time, and ended up as prisoners in Guantanamo Bay for three years!

One of the youths was arranged to be married in Pakistan, so his friends also journeyed to Pakistan from Britain to attend the wedding. This was shortly after 9/11, and around the time the US began bombing Afghanistan.

The boys were inspired by the sermons made at a mosque, how they should stand in solidarity with their Afghani brothers and sisters. So they decided to take a trip to the bordering country of Afghanistan for a few days to see if they could provide any assistance to the civilians. Instead, they found themselves in the midst of a bomb raid and were later captured by the Northern Alliance and delivered/sold to US forces. They remained the custody of the US Military at Guantanamo Bay without any formal charges pressed against them. They were not allowed to communicate with their family members or an attorney. They were accused of being part of the Taliban and Al Queda, and interrogated and tortured daily, despite very legitimate and easily-determined alibis. They were released nearly three years later.

In spite of the issue being extremely ripe right now, particulary with the recent suicides, you should see this movie because it was really well-made. It had a good balance of information and entertainment. In other words, it wasn't just a dry documentary saturated with script and still photos. And it wasn't an over-the-top hollywood film plagued with gratuitous violence and drama. Rather, it was a provocative film that kept you interested and, at the same time, allowed you to understand the depth of the problem without the heavy-handedness that some political films have. It was really quite good and very powerful.

I also saw myself in those boys... how they had good intentions, but were naive and unknowingly put themselves in grave danger. They were curious about what was happening in Afghanistan, and were so close to the action, they felt they had to see it for themselves, to see what the Western world was doing to this country. I can totally see myself do the exact same thing.

After the viewing, Mr. Winterbottom and a representative from Amnesty International answered questions. They were also very good. Thankfully, a woman in the audience asked, what can we do? The Amnesty woman suggested to check out their website. I just checked it out -- it's pretty comprehensive and offers suggestions for action.

The Road ot Guantanamo is showing this Friday at Sunset Five. Here's a list of other theaters around the country that will premiere the movie. Go see it. You won't regret it.

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