Photos from the launch of “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo”

22.10.09

Poster for "Outside the Law: Stories from Guantanamo"Yesterday’s launch of “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” at the Cochrane Theatre in London was a great success. The documentary was extremely well received, with numerous members of the audience explaining afterwards that it spelled out “man’s inhumanity to man” in the context of the “War on Terror” with clarity and eloquence.

Amongst the comments I’ve received today is an email thanking me for an “excellent event” and an “important film” that was “very informative and very moving,” and another stating:

The film was brilliantly powerful — both understated and shocking. All night I have had the images in my head and thoughts of these men who, even when released, can’t contact their families. I hate to admit I had no idea about extraordinary rendition — you have lifted the lid on a world that far too many people, like myself, find too easy to avoid.

And the following:

I have just returned from a rather extraordinary evening. I attended the film premiere of Andy Worthington and Polly Nash’s film “Outside the Law” — a feature length documentary about Guantánamo. I urge you all to see it. Please do and then when you have seen it pass it on to your friends and family. I have not seen anything at all that compares to understanding the magnitude of what has been happening in Guantánamo and Bagram. After seeing this film and then staying for the Q&A, which featured the film makers, as well as former detainees Omar Deghayes and Moazzam Begg, I was moved, inspired and angered beyond any other event I have been to. People left the venue with changed opinions, far better informed and shocked. Once again please do try and get to a screening.

There’s also this from a detailed review at The Osterley Times blog:

The film was intense and powerful, mostly because it did not attempt in any way to emotionalise the story it was laying out before us. [Andy] Worthington, Clive Stafford Smith and others simply told the story of how the US abandoned habeas corpus and found itself in a kind of war with its own legal system, whilst [Moazzam] Begg and [Omar] Deghayes told the tale of what it was like to be on the receiving end of this historic aberration of justice.

I’m delighted to reproduce below some photos of the directors, Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, and other photos of the Q&A session that followed the film, in which the directors were joined by former Guantánamo prisoners Moazzam Begg and Omar Deghayes for a very lively and thought-provoking session. The photos were taken by Richard Wolff, whose website is here, and are reproduced with Richard’s kind permission.

Andy Worthington and Polly Nash

Andy Worthington and Polly Nash, at the launch of “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo,” London, October 21, 2009.

Polly Nash and Andy Worthington introducing "Outside the Law: Stories from Guantanamo," London, October 21, 2009

Polly Nash and Andy Worthington introducing the film.

Polly Nash, Omar Deghayes, Moazzam Begg and Andy Worthington discussing Guantanamo after the launch of "Outside the Law: Stories from Guantanamo," London, October 21, 2009

Andy Worthington discussing Guantánamo in the Q&A session (with Polly Nash, Omar Deghayes and Moazzam Begg).

Omar Deghayes and Moazzam Begg discussing Guantanamo after the launch of "Outside the Law: Stories from Guantanamo," London, October 21, 2009

Omar Deghayes discussing Guantánamo in the Q&A session (with Moazzam Begg).

Omar Deghayes, Moazzam Begg and Andy Worthington discussing Guantanamo after the launch of "Outside the Law: Stories from Guantanamo," London, October 21, 2009

Andy Worthington discussing Guantánamo in the Q&A session (with Omar Deghayes and Moazzam Begg).

Polly Nash and Omar Deghayes discussing Guantanamo after the launch of "Outside the Law: Stories from Guantanamo," London, October 21, 2009

Polly Nash discussing Guantánamo in the Q&A session (with Omar Deghayes).

About the film

“Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” is a new documentary film, directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington (and inspired by Andy’s book, The Guantánamo Files). The film tells the story of Guantánamo (and includes sections on extraordinary rendition and secret prisons) with a particular focus on how the Bush administration turned its back on domestic and international laws, how prisoners were rounded up in Afghanistan and Pakistan without adequate screening (and often for bounty payments), and why some of these men may have been in Afghanistan or Pakistan for reasons unconnected with militancy or terrorism (as missionaries or humanitarian aid workers, for example).

The film is based around interviews with former prisoners (Moazzam Begg and, in his first major interview, Omar Deghayes, who was released in December 2007), lawyers for the prisoners (Clive Stafford Smith in the UK and Tom Wilner in the US), and journalist and author Andy Worthington, and also includes appearances from Guantánamo’s former Muslim chaplain James Yee, Shakeel Begg, a London-based Imam, and the British human rights lawyer Gareth Peirce.

Focusing on the stories of three particular prisoners — Shaker Aamer (who is still held), Binyam Mohamed (who was released in February 2009) and Omar Deghayes — “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” provides a powerful rebuke to those who believe that Guantánamo holds “the worst of the worst” and that the Bush administration was justified in responding to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 by holding men neither as prisoners of war, protected by the Geneva Conventions, nor as criminal suspects with habeas corpus rights, but as “illegal enemy combatants” with no rights whatsoever.

For further information, interviews, or to inquire about broadcasting, distributing or showing “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo,” please contact Andy Worthington or Polly Nash.

“Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” is a Spectacle Production (74 minutes, 2009).

About the directors and the production company

Andy Worthington is a journalist, and the author of three books, including The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (Pluto Press). Visit his website here.

Polly Nash is a lecturer at the London College Of Communication (LCC), part of the University of the Arts, London, and has worked in film and TV for 20 years. Core funding for the film was provided by LCC.

Spectacle is an independent television production company specializing in documentary, community-led investigative journalism and participatory media. Spectacle programs have been broadcast across Europe, Australia and Canada and have won international awards. Visit their website here.

For excerpts and extras, follow the links on the Spectacle website. A short trailer is available here. I’m also maintaining a main page for the film here, which will be updated regularly.

Andy’s book The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison is published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK. To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed (and I can also be found on Facebook and Twitter). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, published in March 2009, and if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.

8 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    Kel (of The Osterley Times), who wrote the review linked to above, wrote:

    Andy,

    I have been meaning to email you all day and have just sat down to post you a link to the article I wrote this morning about the film only to discover that you have found it already.

    I would have said hello last night but you were in such demand I thought I would leave it.

    I loved, as I said in this morning’s post, the way the movie simply laid out the chronological timeline of what has taken place. Each of us has been outraged every step of the way, but time numbs — or perhaps our outrage during the Bush years was simply overtaken by each fresh outrage — and it was terribly important to see the way the whole illegal mess was developed; and to hear from the victims it left in its wake.

    I do hope that the film reaches the widest possible audience, it certainly deserves to. And when I say that, I mean people unlike those of us who sat there last night knowing the tale of what had taken place and knowing that it continues even as I write this.

    I have apolitical friends, who would share our sense of outrage were they ever to see what was done — in our names — portrayed in the way your film does so brilliantly, but they believe that George Bush was hard on “terrorists”, so their sympathy is limited.

    I was very moved by both Moazzam Begg and Omar Deghayes. Their sense of humour. Their ability to rebuild their lives. I was genuinely humbled that they — even after all that had been done to them — were able to show the simple humanity which was so sadly lacking from the majority of their captors.

    Thank you so much for the invitation.

    Please let me know if there is any other way that I can help this film reach a wider audience.

    Best wishes,

    Kel.

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Lawrence Archer, whose book on the “ricin plot” is out next year, based on his experience as a juror, wrote:

    Hi Andy

    I just wanted to say I thought the film was really powerful. I repeat what I said to you last night … this is something that you should be very proud of. I thought the film flowed very well and linked all the various aspects of the Guantanamo story together almost seamlessly. It was also incredibly moving.

    I must admit I hadn’t realised the full extent to which the US is acting outside international laws to maintain Guantanamo and Bagram as holding centres for detainees. There were eye-opening moments about evidence obtained from detainees in Gitmo being used against people in the UK too.

    Well done on the film … I hope it gets the wider release it deserves. Good to see you again.

    Best wishes
    Lawrence

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    David Mery wrote:

    Thank you very much for yesterday’s evening. I found the evening very worthwhile. The glimpse into the normalcy of many of the horrific practices (and I don’t just mean torture, but also the use of secret evidence) given by the interviewees make the film very powerful.

    I had seen Omar several times before but never heard him speak (or at least not that much) and found him very eloquent and interesting to listen to.

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    Another friend, Helene, wrote:

    It is a very interesting, informative and moving documentary.

    I’ve been feeling disturbed the whole day but obviously I knew it was going to happen … Torture being probably the subject that upsets me the most? … The most human inhuman …
    I very well remember seeing these horrendous images in newspapers over the past years, which disturbed me profoundly although I never know quite what to make of what we are given in newspapers but … I knew I was likely to see again last night.

    Well done and … Respect.

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    In a follow-up message, Helene added:

    Torture and human rights abuse in general — including children’s and women’s rights which are also too often forgotten — is the reason why I’ve been supporting Amnesty financially and in my thoughts, and indirectly in my work, since I was a teenager… I have a book called ‘The History of Torture’ that I couldn’t actually finish because I find it unbearable! As I said … The most human of inhuman, if that makes sense in English… Le plus humain de l’inhumain! No other species on the planet does that I believe? Or surely not to this level of cruelty …

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