Winterbottom Basking in Political Spotlight

by Anthony Kaufman
February 16, 2006 10:59 AM
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Michael Winterbottom could not have premiered his new film "The Road to Guantanamo" at a better time. Buffeted by the UN report announced today -- available here, via the New York Times -- Winterbottom's latest socially conscious docu-fiction hybrid has stirred up publicity in just about every news media outlet in the world, from Reuters, the BBC and CNN to Al Jazeera and China's People's Daily Online. Harvey Weinstein could take a lesson from Kofi Annan.

But in press conferences and interviews, Winterbottom appears terse, self-effacing and legitimately concerned for the Gitmo prisoners, but not about the fate of his film. While the picture has been all the talk of Berlin, it seems, and a frontrunner for the Golden Bear, I haven't read or heard anything about indie distribs going in for the kill. Does Warner Indie want to confront another political hot potato after "Paradise Now"? Picturehouse is currently releasing Winterbottom's "Tristram Shandy", but I haven't heard a peep from them on the acquisitions front. Will Sony Classics, Miramax or the Weinsteins step up to the plate? Americans, obviously, have to see this film.

And here, from a story in the Guardian, written by a lawyer who has represented some of the detainees, are the "undisputed facts":

"38 Guantánamo prisoners were found innocent, even by biased military tribunals, after being held for three years. At least eight of these conceded innocents are still there. More than 250 prisoners have been released, apparently because they were not a danger to the US after all. For the most part, each has vanished back into the faraway country whence he came. Nobody has asked why President Bush branded them the "worst of the worst" among the world's terrorists, although we now know that no senior al-Qaida officer in US custody was in Guantánamo - they have been held in secret prisons around the world (some in Europe). Five hundred prisoners remain in chains in Guantánamo, many with compelling claims of innocence, yet on December 20 2005, the US Congress passed a law barring their access to any US court."

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