We Are Not Ghouls is an incisive have a look at what it means to work inside a system that’s essentially damaged, in a rustic that’s complicit in committing atrocities even because it claims to guard its residents from them. Based mostly on the 2009 e-book The Guantanamo Attorneys: Inside a Jail Exterior the Regulation, the documentary units up a case of ‘fallacious place, fallacious time’ and proceeds to unravel its chilling implications over the subsequent 95 minutes. Binyam Mohamed, a UK resident and up to date convert to Islam, travels to Afghanistan for a spiritual tour when the 2001 American conflict prevents him from returning. On a detour to Pakistan, he’s picked up for possession of a solid passport and detained whereas fees of terrorism are levied towards him. What comply with are seven years of government-sanctioned torture and the demise penalty cost.
Pieced collectively from archival footage, reenactments and interviews with consultants, the documentary’s only device is the testimony of Yvonne Bradley, the army lawyer who volunteered to defend Mohamed. Her presence not solely helps put collectively the items of the puzzle, but additionally establishes her as a authorities worker whose eyes have been regularly opened to the bigger image. Detailing her personal preliminary confusion on the fees, Bradley systematically demolishes the false narratives constructed by the US authorities by mentioning logical loopholes and inconsistencies within the proof. A backstory, painted in broad strokes, units up the conflicting elements of Bradley’s id. As a Christian, she’s reluctant at first to defend somebody she perceives as responsible of heinous crimes. As a Black lady, nevertheless, her expertise of being othered and discriminated towards brings her round to Mohamed’s perspective. The documentary steadily represents the 2 of them as figures on enjoying playing cards, underlining not solely how the justice system is as susceptible to collapse as a home of playing cards, however how detainees should cope with the arbitrary hand they’ve been dealt.
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At its most chilling, the documentary veers away from reenactments and easily focuses on a voiceover from Mohamed, who recounts torture strategies comparable to being confined bare in full darkness, uncovered to audio of individuals screaming 24 hours a day for six months and having his genitals lacerated. Sketches of prisoners subjected to simulated drownings full the grisly image. Documentary filmmaker Chris James Thompson deftly juxtaposes these personal brutalities towards the federal government’s public image-making. At a press convention held by Protection Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, a journalist asks: Do you suppose any of the prisoners you captured are harmless?” just for the room to burst into laughter. The longer Mohamed languishes behind bars, the slimmer his possibilities of being let out turn out to be — the US authorities can’t danger him revealing what they’ve put him via. The documentary urges viewers to withstand their impulse to query whether or not Mohamed was responsible of the crimes he was accused of, and as an alternative query whether or not that actually justifies the usage of systematic torture as a punishment.
We Are Not Ghouls is a putting documentation of American historical past, however extra considerably, a mirror to present world cruelties. Its title comes from a US authorities official who makes use of the phrase to refute allegations of torture, whereas tacitly elevating help for it by scaring the general public with descriptions of vivid, imagined brutalities that the othered would possibly try to hold out. In a system that trains its workers to be environment friendly cogs within the authorities equipment, it takes a disaster of conscience to behave otherwise, a minor miracle the documentary sees for what it’s.