Persons of Interest

Year: 2003
Country: USA
Running time: 63 mins
Photography: Richard Rutkowski
Editor: Sandrine Isambert
In English, Arabic, Spanish and Urdu, with English subtitles
Beta SP

With: Muhamed Abushhaker, Syed Ali, Khadrah Ali, Nabil Ayesh

Festivals: Sundance, Rotterdam 2004

As many as 5,000 Arab or Muslim Americans may have been detained by the US government since 9/11, some for longer than a year, without any connection to terror attacks being established. Expatriate New Zealander Alison Maclean and her co-director interview a handful of them in this quietly unnerving film.

“No documentary was more timely or disturbing [at Sundance] than Persons of Interest. Filmmakers Alison Maclean and Tobias Perse conducted a series of interviews with Arab and Muslim immigrants who were swept up in the post-9/11 hysteria and imprisoned, often with no charges filed against them and no legal recourse. The film has an elegant, almost formal, simplicity; all the interviews are conducted in a bare room suggestive of a jail cell. The 12 stories we hear illustrate all too clearly the human cost of a Justice Department that has abandoned fundamental human rights in its indiscriminate campaign against terrorism. But the film never raises its voice to propagandize. It doesn’t need to.” — David Ansen, Newsweek