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THE ROAD TO GUANTANAMO

Director: MICHAEL WINTERBOTTOM & MATT WHITECROSS

U.K • 2006 • COLOUR • DOLBY STEREO • 95 MIN.


CO-DIRECTED WITH MATT WHITECROSS, MICHAEL WINTERBOTTOM’S DRAMA-DOCUMENTARY ABOUT GUANTANAMO CAN BE LINKED WITH EARLIER FILMS OF HIS, SUCH AS WELCOME TO SARAJEVO (1997) AND IN THIS WORLD (2002), WHICH SIMILARLY RELATE TRUE STORIES OF ORDINARY INDIVIDUALS MIRED IN THE NIGHTMARE OF MODERN POLITICS.
Guantanamo concerns the so-called ‘Tipton Three’, young british Muslims who travelled to Pakistan for the wedding of one of them, became embroiled in the turmoil of Afghanistan, were arrested as terrorists and wound up in Guantanamo prison. Typically, Winterbottom explores the resilience of obscure people in horrendous circumstances, who nevertheless assert their right to exist. The film balances direct testimony to the camera with dramatic reconstruction and contemporary news reports. Harrowing authenticity is offset by flashes of happier times and an unexpected moment of compassion (when an American soldier crushes a tarantula that is roaming a prisoner’s cell). Moments of grim irony even recall Dr. Strangelove, such as the sign outside the camp that reads: ‘Honour Bound to Defend Freedom’, or Bush’s beaming comment, ‘They don’t share the same values we share’. Guantanamo as a monument to American values?
Winterbottom has denied the film is anti-American—it is, after all, not very flattering about the British either—and could justifiably cite Graham Greene’s comment at the time of Chaplin’s persecution under McCarthyism: ‘An ally’s disgrace is our disgrace . . . and intolerance in any country wounds freedom throughout the world.’ This is an important cinematic provocation from arguably the greatest of
contemporary British directors.—Neil Sinyard

THE APRIL 5TH SCREENING OF ‘THE ROAD TO GUANTANAMO’ IS PRESENTED BY AMNESTY

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