The Prisoner: or How I Planned to Kill Tony Blair Petra Epperlein

The Prisoner: or How I Planned to Kill Tony Blair Petra Epperlein

Yunis Khatayer Abbas, like countless other Iraqi journalists, has a sad story to tell. Abbas was arrested and taken from his home by American soldiers in September 2003, along with his two brothers, under suspicion of conspiring to assassinate Tony Blair, then Britain’s prime minister. For the next nine months Abbas would endure hell on Earth; his is a brutal yarn of violence, fear, torture, racism and unexpected humanity at the hands of the Coalition’s occupation. While the subject matter retains a certain level of dreariness, Epperlein, who also directed the 2005 documentary Gunner Palace, puts a creative touch on his exploitative film. He divvies up Abbas’s trials into chapters, each comprised of home videos, documents and photos of the journalist’s plight. After some cheeky jokes and innuendos, both the candid Abbas and Epperlein manage to save the viewing experience from being a total tearjerker by injecting some well-timed, tasteful humour. It’s a seemingly unorthodox move for such a serious movie but Epperlein pulls it off with class. However, the brutality that Abbas and his brothers suffer during their tenure in the infamous Abu Ghraib prison isn’t the least bit funny, a point that Epperlein all too frequently underlines. At a brief 72 minutes, the film is perfectly paced, giving you a chance to become more than intimately familiar with Abbas and his harrowing tale. The film is powerful enough to linger on in memory but the extras just plain suck. There’s only one: a trailer for the film. Still, it’s a great renter, if only to see what really happens to the wrongfully accused in this ongoing Middle Eastern quagmire. (Mongrel Media)