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March 06, 2007

At the Movies: The Prisoner
Posted by Heather Hurlburt

The filmmakers who brought us Gunner Palace  (American and East German, which should resonate all by itself) have put together something which sounds extraordinary (please note, I haven't seen the film and this is NOT an endorsement of it or its contents):


The Prisoner or: How I Planned to Kill Tony Blair

Baghdad, September 2003: In a middle class house on a quiet street, a family is fast asleep. Without warning, the front door is crashed and American soldiers storm the house looking for weapons and bomb-making material.  Cameraman Michael Tucker documents the event as the men in the house are cuffed and forced to kneel in the garden. A search of the house uncovers no incriminating evidence, however Yunis Khatayer Abbas and three of his brothers are taken and detained.

Bent on forcing Yunis to confess to crimes he did not commit, his captors press him with bizarre questions about music tastes, sexual preferences and Harrison Ford. His intelligence value exhausted, he is then transferred to Abu Ghraib Prison. The charge: Planning the Assassination of Tony Blair.   

Among thousands suffering from food shortages, riots and insurgent attacks, Yunis endures by helping his fellow prisoners and keeping a secret diary. He also forges an unlikely friendship with one of his guards, who he calls "The Good Soldier".

Combining Tucker's embedded footage, Yunis' home movies, testimony from former guard Benjamin Thompson and original comic book art, Tucker and Epperlein trace the moving story of an ordinary man trapped in a Kafkaesque nightmare.

I'll note that I have in the past worked with Venture Communications, the firm that is promoting the movie; but I'm pretty confident that I'd find it extraordinary anyway.  It's got upcoming previews in Washington and general screenings begin March 23; it also looks like you can pre-order it on Netflix.


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Extraordinary? This was and is typical of the milder aspects of the brutal US occupation of Iraq and helps to answer the question: Why do they hate us? A record of this sort of behavior would be novel to most Americans accustomed to watching the US corporate media (and in that sense would be extraordinary) but is old hat, I imagine, in the Arab world with access to al Jazeerah. Any attempted release of this film in the USA will no doubt draw a full-court-press from the establishment wingnuts. Bring it on! Show the 'war on terror' for the farce that it is, and the strength of people like Yunis and 'the good soldier' to cope with it. They, and others like them, are the real heroes of this cursed war.

They, and others like them, are the real heroes of this cursed war

and others like them, are the real heroes of this cursed war

and others like them, are the real heroes of this cursed war

and others like them, are the real heroes of this cursed war

They, and others like them, are the real heroes of this cursed war

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