Award winning film on Guantanamo can make the case to America. Let’s show it there for the prison’s 20th anniversary in January 2022
“Guantanamo? Is that still open?”
Americans ask this all the time. And the answer is yes. It will be 20 years old in January 2022. And there are still 38 men imprisoned without trial.
How do we finally close this “patient zero” of the human rights abuses that began after 9/11? How can ordinary Americans be persuaded to talk civil liberties when it comes to the prisoners left? How do we discuss the legal complexities, the international self-defeat, and the humanity of “Bad Dudes”? It’s too big for a slogan. You need a Hollywood blockbuster.
This year, an award-winning film was produced specifically to do these things. The Mauritanian, directed by Kevin Macdonald and staring Tahar Rahim, Jodie Foster and Benedict Cumberbatch tells the true courtroom drama of Mahamedou Salahi, who spent 14 years in Guantanamo and how he was freed. It exposes the lies that were told to keep him there.
Unfortunately, COVID frustrated the release of The Mauritanian in America, and the film was has yet to find its audience in the country that needs to see it most. That is why we are now starting a campaign to get The Mauritanian shown and seen across the United States leading up to the anniversary.
This October, Lewes Amensty Group booked a special screening of The Mauritatian at our local independent cinema, the Depot. It was a great night, including a live Q&A session with the director, Mohamedou Salahi himself, the lawyer who got him out, Nancy Hollander, and Guantanamo expert, journalist Andy Worthington.
And all we had to do was ask.
We made some calls to a cinema and wrote some emails to a distributor. The warm support we have had makes us think that other groups could do this. There are local groups of Amnesty International and other civil liberties organisations across America. There are law schools and student film societies. With a few phone calls and emails, each one could stage their own event.
It’s not long until January, but there is enough time to get screenings booked and press releases sent. Guantanamo will close when the embarrassment of keeping it open is greater than the embarrassment of the world hearing what was done to these men, and where they were taken on the way. If we find it an audience, this film could shift that balance.
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