Saturday, March 19, 2005

film - Persons of Interest

Persons of Interest 3/5

Only 8 people showed up to see this 63-minute documentary on opening night, which, sadly, is commensurate with the amount of attention this story has been given by the media – almost none.

Several Arab Americans, some full citizens, some not, tell their stories about how they were picked up by the police, questioned and thrown into detention, sometimes for over a year.

We are shown footage of John Ashcroft, then US Attorney General, saying that they will arrest terrorist suspects as they are caught violating laws of any kind. He makes reference to Bobby Kennedy and how he wanted members of the Mob arrested even if they were caught spitting on the sidewalk, as a deterrent.

The filmmakers noted that the authorities won’t reveal how many people were detained after 9/11, but estimates that figure to be about 5,000. And, they make the point that none of these persons have been charged to date, although some have been deported. It comes at no surprise that Arab people would get rounded up after breaking any legal infraction, after 9/11, such as failing to stop at a red light, but it’s disturbing to see how many of these people languished away without charges being laid.

There is little narration, but the statements made by the victims and their families are powerful enough. This is as low-budget as documentaries come, but the filmmakers have definitely made their point without being Michael Moore preachey. Too bad so few people will see this film.

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