Review: The Road To Guantanamo
The summer movie season is usually reviled for putting out movies of the Waist Deep school of filmmaking but actually there are more quiet, moving indies in the mix of releases than you'd expect. Michael Winterbottom's newest, The Road to Guantanamo falls into that camp (no pun intended) with its fine acting, clever use of documentary realism and shocking subject matter. Like The Inconvenient Truth, this is a movie which may not seem like it would be a fun time at the cinema and at times it's certainly not, but it's an important movie if you believe in human rights and America's due process system.
Winterbottom is a director whose prolific output is only matched by his eclectic subject matter and seems to me to be one of the most interesting filmmakers working today. Thus, I hopped at a chance to attend an advance screening of the film hosted by the ACLU at the IFC Center with a Q&A following featuring Winterbottom, a few human rights lawyers and the three subjects of his film linked in via iChat AV from England. Consequently an already upsetting film about three young English muslims imprisoned at Guantanamo for two years without ever being formally charged, became an even more conscious raising experience. As the lawyers on the panel pointed out, to see the conditions at Guantanamo actualized on screen with actors living through it brought this situation home more than all even they've read or heard. It's impressive when movies can communicate someone's lived experience so viscerally and it gives this sometimes jaded viewer hope that making movies can really be an important undertaking.
On a random side note: Michael Stipe happened to be in the audience and during the Q&A got up to make a heartfelt comment to the young men in England that on behalf of all Americans he apologized for their treatment. So, if it was possible to add a tally to our Movie Binge running totals of popcorn, sodas and candy we could put down "one" next to celebrity sightings during our project.