On Oct. 4, the Evanston Library on Orrington Avenue was host to a short film with a grand message stretching from New York to California, from the Middle East to Guantanamo Bay.
Writer/producer Sig Libowitz’s
“The Response” is, itself, a response to the catch-22 the 229 “enemy combatants” being held at the tropical paradise, otherwise known as Camp Delta in Guantanamo Bay, have suffered; six years of imprisonment without having been charged with a crime. For a compelling 30 minutes, we bear witness to the lunacy of a Military Tribunal – no judge, no jury, much of the evidence classified and therefore not disclosed to
the defendant – and watch the real world dissolve into a Kafkaesque nightmare.
Mr. Libowitz has fashioned his amalgamated script from actual transcripts of these military tribunals, followed by a brief, fictional epilogue reminiscent of “Twelve Angry Men,” wherein the three military judges decide the fate of a man basically in purgatory. While two of them are dismayed and disillusioned with the entire process, their conclusion comes as no shock to those who still read newspapers.
Mr. Libowitz presented the screening and participated in a question-and-answer session following the film, along with Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky.
The idea for the film, said Mr. Libowitz, came to him while he was taking a “National Security Law” class, for which there was no textbook.
His professor noted that, “If we had
a textbook, it would be obsolete by the
end of the semester.” Such legal confusion and the moral conundrums that arose after 9/11 form the basis of the film.
Director Adam Rodgers provides tight camerawork and creates a tense atmosphere for a strong cast, including a breakthrough performance by Assif Mandvi (“The Daily Show with Jon Stewart”) as Al-Aqar, the accused. Peter Riegert (“The Sopranos”), Kate Mulgrew (“Star Trek: Voyager”) and Sig Libowitz (“The Sopranos”), round out the proceedings as the three judges partly responsible for Al-Aqar’s fate.
“The Response” also boasts a moving score and stellar cinematography. It has won several awards, been screened at both the Pentagon and the Department of Justice, and has been accepted to seven Academy Award-qualifying film festivals.
This film is essential viewing for all Americans, regardless of party affiliation, concerned about preserving our system of justice and creating a positive perception of the United States throughout the world – in essence, saving our humanity during a time of insanity.
For information about how to see the film, go to www.theresponsemovie.com.