Sweden, 79 minutes
Dir: Erik Gandini and Tarik Saleh
Winner, 1st prize – Seattle International Film Festival
Jury Special mention – Miami International Film Festival
This investigative documentary examines the interrogation practices at the infamous Guantanamo Bay detention facility, aka GITMO. The mission of the young Swedish filmmakers to conduct an on-site investigation of how U.S. officials seek intelligence in the Global War on Terrorism is thwarted by a shrewd and well rehearsed U.S. military PR machine that welcomes them to the base with a smile, but manages affairs on its own terms.
The journalists are shown how the soldiers live, how they shop and how they play golf. They are permitted to interview certain soldiers under supervision of senior officers who stop the interview if they deem questions unsuitable. Even though filmmakers Gandini and Saleh are not allowed to meet or talk to any prisoners, at night, they hear them screaming in their cages. The U.S. military response? "They are saying their prayers."
In response to the lack of access to prisoners, the filmmakers captured testimonials from others who have been released, or since left Gitmo. Interviews include "private contractors" who worked in the camp and, because they are not U.S. military, were allowed to torture the prisoners. They recount the various methods of abuse conducted at the base.
Also interviewed is Janet Karpinski, blamed in the torture scandals in Iraq, who tells how methods were exported from Guantanamo to Iraq, and suggests that such methods were sanctioned by high-ranking officials in the U.S. government. Perhaps the most memorable of the interviewees is an ex-prisoner – a young Swedish man named Mehdi Ghezali whose vow of silence about his experiences in Guantanamo offers a whiff of the many untold truths yet to emerge about the War on Terror.
This program originally aired as part of Link TV's Doc-Debut series.
For more information, visit ATMO independent films.