Cph:dox 9-17/11 Prisoner

Another strong story from the Iraqi war. This time about a journalist, Yunis Abbas, who was captured by the Americans accused for being part of a cell that planned to kill Tony Blair when he was to visit his war zone. Yunis Abbas tells the story himself through a long interview. He speaks clearly, he tells the story straight forward to give the time development of the film. Him being captured together with his brothers, followed by detainment, finally to end up in the worst part of the Abu Ghraib prison.

With a release after nine months accompanied by a “sorry”, “we don’t know why you are here”!

The filmmakers have wisely chosen a tone of the film that stresses the more than absurd story that Yunis Abbas tells. They use light pop music, they intercut his story with cartoon-like drawings that brings in humour, they aim at an ironical tone but does not refrain from being pathetic in sequences that illustrate the horror of the war. A camera is following the capture of the Abbas family, demonstrating the respectless behaviour of the American soldiers. (Later on the prisoners are called monkeys). I wonder where they got the material from.

An American soldier tells the story from his perspective. He got friends with the brothers, he is a good boy and the prisoners are greatful to what he did for them.

In that way the film demonstrates nuances, it’s not only Good and Bad, it also brings in a universal element – this could happen everywhere, in every war. We knew it happened in Aby Ghraib, this time we are reminded about it, in a good film that has taken a good choice of storytelling.

The Prisoner Or: How I Planned to Kill Tony Blair
Germany, USA, 2006

More about the festival: http://www.cphdox.dk/d1/front.lasso

Share your love
Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

Articles: 3862