This powerful documentary is a film of talking heads - yet it’s absolutely gripping. Following the stories of four Guantanamo detainees, and featuring interviews with ex-detainees Moazzam Begg and Omar Deghayes, the legal director of Reprieve, Clive Stafford Smith, and American lawyer for the detainees, Tom Wilner, it’s a damning expose of the Bush administration’s torture and detention policies in the War on Terror, and at the same time an uplifting account of how humanity can survive intact following dreadful and prolonged enforced suffering.
The film covers all the issues, including ‘extraordinary rendition’, torture and the bizarre and confusing legal mess created by the administration in order to justify its policies and sidestep international law... Seeing the extent to which the rule of law has been trashed, and the standard of ‘justice’ employed as a return to the 11th Century (pre-Magna Carta), is depressing and upsetting indeed. But the film also presents hope for humanity... The War on Terror, and the struggle against its multitude of injustices, includes both the worst and the best of humanity. By showing us, above all, the humanity of these so-miscalled ‘worst of the worst’, ‘Outside the Law: Stories from Guantanamo’ does an important service indeed.
Michael Bentley, Michael's Peace Blog
‘Outside the Law’ is a powerful film that has helped ensure that Guantánamo and the men unlawfully held there have not been forgotten
Kate Allen , director Amnesty International UK
Criticisms of the Bush administration aren't exactly new ground for a documentary, ensuring a sense of familiarity when Nash and Worthington offer a series of interviews with human rights lawyers and political activists on the topic. Still, this is a strong movie examining the imprisonment and subsequent torture of those falsely accused of anti-American conspiracy. It avoids common conventions such as dramatic narration, music or use of archive footage, delivering frank and understated accounts from the victims and forming an intriguing and emotive cross-section of life at Guantanamo Bay.
Joe Burnham, Time Out
The Free Word Centre in Farringdon, just behind the Betsey Trotwood pub, is still under a year old but is establishing itself quickly as a centre for Literature, Literacy and free expression. Tonight’s film, the first at this venue, fits with the centre’s motto and provides a voice for ex-‘detainees’ of the most famous apparent non-prison on the planet. Director-Producers Polly Nash and Andrew Worthington have put together a very eloquent story from 9/11 to present day; the film is simple, relying on the talking heads of legal and political experts and Omar Deghayes and Moazzem Begg who were ‘detained’ at Guantanamo for several years, and still photographs representing the absent parties responsible for the atrocities of ‘Enhanced Interrogation Techniques’ practised by a White House flouting the Geneva convention. The film relies on not distancing its viewer with documentary techniques of voiceover and re-enactment – in fact it has been criticised by channel programmers for not fitting the style of television today, although Nash and Worthington both regard this as the film’s unfiltered strength.
It was a suitably modern film for this spacious and airy venue which, despite a few early technical hitches, pleased its audience, who also found it suitably humbling to meet Begg and Deghayes at the Panel discussion afterwards. It is hard to imagine these well-spoken, eloquent, charismatic and confident men suffering the abuses discussed and pictured. They looked so comfortable in themselves whilst answering the audience’s questions on the continuing fate of those left at the prison, and spoke factually rather than with emotion about the apparent new extrajudicial killings ordered by the new US government that are more ‘convenient’ than extraordinary renditions. A remarkable evening.
Laura Jenkinson London International Documentary Festival
Engaging and moving, and personal. The first one to really take you through the lives of the men from their own eyes.
Thanks so much!
Deborah Sweet, The World Can’t Wait
Congratulations sounds completely inadequate, you have made a very powerful and compelling film, copies should go to Obama, Gordon Brown, David Milliband and David Cameron as well as Amnesty International because, as was said, it is not simply recording what is known about the past but also what is not known about the present and what will happen in the future.
I'm sorry I had to go after the film and before the second half of the evening but I was full up and needed space to take in what I had seen and heard.
I have just returned from a rather extraordinary evening. I attended the film premier of Andy Worthington and Polly Nash's film Outside the Law- a feature length documentary about Guantanamo. 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 campares to understanding the magnitude of what has been happening in Guantanamo 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 Moazzem 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.
Just wanted to mail you to offer you my heartfelt Congratulations on the screening of ‘Outside the Law’ last Wednesday. There was a huge buzz around the film that night, it was very exciting to be in the audience. Well done Polly !!!
It is a powerful piece of work and a hugely important document in its own right. You have done something really amazing in drawing together so many difficult and complex issues and presenting them in such an accessible way. Traumatic though the subject matter is you have nevertheless helped the audience to follow the process from the beginning and to grasp both the human and the political cost to all of us. It is not just a war crime but a crime against humanity. That came across so clearly in the film and the debate.
You have given the guys a most precious thing - a diamond of truth which will extend the reach and impact of their struggle for justice and take the message out to a wider audience. That little film has got a big job of work to do and judging from the discussion and debate last Wednesday it is well capable of doing it. You have done a massively important thing for Moazzam and Omar and all the others in that you have given them an additional and very immediate tool to raise awareness and hopefully help with the fundraising they need. A picture really does tell a thousand words. In addition I feel sure you have also done justice to Andy’s ceaseless hard work and commitment
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 extraordinay rendition - you have lifted the lid on a world that far too many people, like myself, find it too easy to avoid.
R4 did a piece about Guantanemo this week - which I am going to listen to -but I'm sure it won't compare with the understated, horrific truth that you captured
...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.
The Osterly Times
The film was great - not because I was in it, but because it told the legal and human story of Guantanamo more clearly than anything I have seen.
The film was fantastic! It has the unique ability of humanizing those who were detained at Guantanamo like no other I have seen.
Sari Gelzer Truthout
I am part of a community of folks from the US who attempted to visit the Guantánamo prison in December 2005, and ended up fasting for a number of days outside the gates. We went then, and we continue our work now, because we heard the cries for justice from within the prison walls. As we gathered tonight as a community, we watched “Outside the Law,” and by the end, we all sat silent, many with tears in our eyes and on our faces. I have so much I’d like to say, but for now I wanted to write a quick note to say how grateful we are that you are out, and that you are speaking out with such profound humanity. I am only sorry what we can do is so little, and that so many remain in the prison.
Matt Daloisio Witness Against Torture
I thought the film was absolutely brilliant and the most powerful, moving and hard-hitting piece I have seen at the cinema. I admire and congratulate you for your vital work, pioneering the truth and demanding that people sit up and take notice of the outrageous human rights injustices perpetrated against detainees at Guantanamo and other prisons.
Last Saturday I went to see Polly Nash and Andy Worthington’s harrowing documentary Outside The Law: Tales from Guantanamo at London’s BFI.
The film knits together narratives so heart-wrenching I half wish I had not heard them. Yet the camaraderie between the detainees and occasional humorous anecdotes, such as Binyam Mohammed’s false confession that he tried to induce nuclear fission on April 1st, provide a glimpse into the wit, courage and normalcy of the men we are encouraged to perceive as monsters.
To read full article Sarah Gillespie