New Zealand filmmaker Alison Maclean (JESUS' SON) and former Rolling Stone editor/screenwriter Tobias Perse's
spare, eye-opening documentary examines the argument that racial profiling and the indiscriminate curtailment of other people's freedom is but a small price to pay for "homeland security;" the inevitable conclusions are timely, heartbreaking and profound. In the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the price for that security is overwhelmingly being paid by law-abiding Arabs and Muslims within the United States whose immigrant status leaves them to blatant persecution by U.S. authorities. In a bare white room with a single window and a wooden bench, the stories of 12 such detainees are told, either by the victims themselves or, in the case of those who are still in prison or have already been deported, by family members. You could be forgiven for thinking they're describing life in Stalin's Soviet Union, or tearfully relating the plot of a novel by Kafka. Many were arrested on vague suspicions and flimsy charges often without the notification of their families and held without the benefit of proper legal representation. One man who moved to Buffalo from Pakistan 30 years before was arrested outside a Burger King on Sept. 13, 2001, and questioned by a school psychologist — "Do you know how to fly an airplane? Are you suicidal?" — before spending a month in solitary confinement. Another, a suburban husband and father of three with a Ph.D. in criminal justice, was accused of financing the terrorist attacks and held in jail for 105 days without once being interrogated by federal agents. The evidence against him? His son's flight-simulation video games, $200 in foreign currency, religious books and a ticket stub from the visitor's center at the World Trade Center, where he once took his wife's friends from Ohio. Intercut with clips of U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft laying out his vision for a safer homeland through a merciless campaign of arrest and detention, these terrible tales of honest lives interrupted and changed forever serve as a frightening indication of just how far astray fear has driven us as a nation.
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- Released: 2004
- Rating: NR
- Review: New Zealand filmmaker Alison Maclean (JESUS' SON) and former Rolling Stone editor/screenwriter Tobias Perse's spare, eye-opening documentary examines the argument that racial profiling and the indiscriminate curtailment of other people's freedom is but a… (more)