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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

This week at SFC: Road to Guantanamo

Thursday August 3rd

Road to Guantanamo (Michael Winterbottom & Mat Whitecross/UK/2006/ 95')

The thematic sequel to Winterbotton's In This World (screening # 83 at SFC) that follows a trio of British-Arab nationals who inadvertently joy ride into Afghanistan only to be picked up and then re-located to Guantanamo Bay for torture and interrogation.

Those wishing to see the events of recent headlines fully fleshed out will appreciate much that this film has to offer.

What some people fail to grasp, in light of events like Abu Ghraib and the recent suicides at Guantanamo, is that any kind of amoral behavior by the ground troops stems from those above. If the people at the top are corrupt, then it filters down and these types of events are the results. The Bush administration is doing much to eclipse the Nixon version in every negative way possible and this film only confirms the inadequacy of Mr. Rumsfeld at the helm of US military participation overseas.

This film is not action packed or tension filled, but a long, slow wide-eyed observation of what effect an invading force can have on those that have emigrated away from their native lands and then decide to return. Passivity and curiousity can easily be mistaken by paranoid ground troops as collusion with the enemy, and plain old visitors like the 'Tipton 3' can find themselves in a world of trouble.

The short version of this story is that four young men from the Midlands of England (of Pakistani descent) decide to attend a friend's wedding and are then drawn into a 'touring' party to go 'watch' the Americans invade Afghanistan and possibly help any innocent victims of the occupation forces. The four are captured and three are deemed 'dangerous' enough to be sent to Guantanamo Bay for further interrogation. These British nationals were eventually freed and returned to England, but not until after a long, cruel, and decidedly inconsequential 'debriefing' process had been perpetrated by US military against these three young men. It must be said that the Three have a somewhat opaque story about how exactly they came to be in Afghanistan, which the director takes at face value. But the burden of proof does not lie with the Three, who were entitled to a presumption of innocence, the rule of law and human rights.

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