The Prisoner, or: How I Planned to Kill Tony Blair Petra Epperlein and Michael Tucker

Depending on your point of view, this documentary either solves the problems of a great interview that lacks support footage or tackles them in an irritatingly cutesy manner. That interview is with a hapless Iraqi journalist — one once jailed and tortured by Saddam Hussein — who found himself the victim of America when he was accidentally jailed in Abu Ghraib prison. There he encountered Yank stupidity at its finest.

Herded together with a variety of other "informationally useless” prisoners, he was accused of not just being a terrorist but of masterminding a plot to kill Tony Blair; he also had to deal with the appalling food and living conditions of the prison, which caused a bloody riot that left many prisoners dead. The interview with the supremely gentle journo is indeed chastening, but it’s surrounded by the editorialising of the filmmakers, who fill in the visual gaps with political cartoon images that will strike you as pithy satire or might just annoy you with their smug irony.

The drop-dead sincerity of the interview and the above-it-all wit of the pictures actually throw the film into a nether region between good and bad — one can’t get a fix on the tone, which with the drawings seems rather intent on preaching to the choir rather than giving the material the urgency it requires. Still, the camera subject proves capable of rising above the questionable methods. He tells his story with such candour and quiet disappointment that it’s hard not to respond, even when the filmmakers fail to gauge the mood and blow the tone. At just under one hour, it’s trim enough for you to mainline the hero of the piece while not getting fed up with the visual editorialising and learn the truth about the infallible Americans and their appalling military misadventures. (Pepper & Bones)