Down the Wire, 2004 / Persons of Interest, 2003

Down the Wire, 2004 (Pip Starr)

A group of activists descend on the Woomera Detention facility on Good Friday in 2002 to protest the involuntary imprisonment of refugees at the remote camp in the Australian desert, leading to an impulsive act of civil disobedience. Starr’s short film is an inspiring portrait of activism, advocacy, and compassion for the voiceless, marginalized, and underprivileged.

Persons of Interest, 2003 (Alison Maclean and Tobias Perse)

Shot in a spare, cell-like white walled open space that is sparsely furnished with a table, Persons of Interest is composed of personal and impassioned testaments by twelve New York area Muslims and Arabic surnamed detainees and their families who were indefinitely confined and imprisoned without charges or a trial in the wake of September 11, 2001 World Trade Center attack for a period of two months to nearly two years as a Justice Department identified “person of interest”. A man from Israel describes being stopped for running a red light on the morning of the terrorist attack and, asked by the traffic officer if he was a Jewish or Muslim Israeli, was promptly arrested after responding that he was the latter. After being cleared of all charges after two months, he was subsequently deported. A second account comes from a Pakistan-born American citizen with a Ph.D. in Criminal Law who has lived in the U.S. for over twenty years with his American wife who was detained for over a year after an unsubstantiated anonymous tip led to a search of his home for nuclear weapons and, after instead finding only his son’s flight simulator game and a receipt from the WTC dated a month earlier (having entertained some visiting friends from Ohio with a tour of New York City), was incarcerated at Riker’s Island by the government as a key plotter of the 9/11 attacks. Forced to mortgage the family home and sell his business in order to pay for legal defense, he was subsequently cleared of all charges and now drives a limousine. Other accounts prove to be horror stories on finding safe harbors for their entire families after multi-ethnic couples often find their spouses unwelcomed in their native land as they face deportation from the U.S. Filmmakers Maclean and Perse create a provocative, heart-breaking, and deeply humanist portrait of resilience, hope, and courage in Persons of Interest – a potent denunciation of abuse of power, state-sanctioned discrimination, and unchallenged fear mongering.

© Acquarello 2004. All rights reserved.

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