the road to detention

Art can be dangerous.

The Guardian reports that authorities at Luton Airport in the UK detained four actors because of the characters they play in Michael Winterbottom’s new film, The Road to Guantánamo.

The movie examines what happened to four British citizens who were arrested in Afghanistan during the post-9/11 war, and transported to Guantánamo in Cuba where they were incarcerated for two years in an American prison camp. They were eventually released without charge.

The film won the Silver Bear at this year’s Berlin Film Festival, and the men were detained under Britain’s anti-terror laws as they returned to the UK from Germany.

The film’s producers say four actors from the film, who all play terrorism suspects, were detained at Luton airport after flying back from Germany on an easyJet flight. They included Rizwan Ahmed and Farhad Harun, who were stopped along with Shafiq Rasul and Rhuhel Ahmed, the former Guantánamo inmates they play on screen.

In a statement, Rizwan Ahmed said police swore at him and asked if he had become an actor to further the Islamic cause. He said he was at first denied access to a lawyer and was questioned about his views on the Iraq war by a policewoman. “She asked me whether I intended to do more documentary films, specifically more political ones like The Road to Guantánamo. She asked ‘Did you become an actor mainly to do films like this, to publicise the struggles of Muslims?'”

Mr Ahmed alleged that he had a telephone wrestled from his hand as he tried to contact a lawyer and was later abused. He claimed that one police officer had called him a “fucker”.

Watch out Philip Seymour Hoffman, someone might mistake you for a homosexual writer because you starred in Capote. I guess Bruno Ganz better not travel at all, because he portrayed Hitler in the recent film, Downfall, and that makes him a Nazi sympathiser if you follow the logic employed by the Luton police. Oh, and David Strathairn better watch his back since he played straight-talking reporter Edward R. Murrow in Clooney’s Good Night, and Good Luck, and it doesn’t pay to ask too many questions about the activities of government organisations at the moment, as the actors in The Road to Guantánamo have discovered.

These actions underline that certain films should be made. Although, the film-makers and their crew may have to deal with some unpleasant attention from government officials.