The American Civil Liberties Union wanted to use audio recordings to preserve the testimonials of five former Guantánamo detainees who had been held and released by the Bush administration without charge. I suggested that it would be more powerful to interview the men on video and produce a short film that wove their stories together into one narrative arch. This was a more accessible and compelling way to share the experiences with a wide audience.
Former Guantánamo detainees are usually painted as one-dimensional caricatures and we rarely get to know them as people. What were their lives like before Guantánamo? What are they doing now to start over? What are their hopes, dreams and fears? What kinds of personalities do they have? By using video and the art of storytelling, I hope viewers might have more reason to care about the important issues that surround indefinite detention once they realize what they have in common with the subjects of the film as fellow human beings.
I used sparse narration and avoided talking head commentary by lawyers and advocates. I felt it would be more effective to simply let the men speak for themselves. The purpose of the video was to provide an emotional connection to the issues by focusing only on the personal stories of the men involved. A web link appears at the end of the film for inspired audiences who want to investigate and learn more about things like rule of law and how to stay both safe and free in a troubled world.