"Michael Winterbottom’s film The Road to Guantánamo"
Michael Winterbottom
Creative Commons AttributionMichael Winterbottom - Credit: Henry Burrows

A 2006 docudrama directed by Winterbottom and Mat Whitecross, The Road to Guantánamo described the plight of three British-Asian detainees in the infamous camp at the Guantánamo Bay Naval base in Cuba. The men, known as ‘the Tipton Three’ after their West Midlands home, travelled to Pakistan for a wedding shortly after 9/11 and rashly decided to take a trip into Afghanistan. They were arrested and held in a US military stockade (where they claim they were beaten) before being transported to the camp at Guantánamo Bay. Once there, they were held in solitary for two years without charge or legal representation, before being released in 2004 without compensation.

Controversy arose when one of the three men later admitted he had in fact, visited an Islamist training camp in Afghanistan, casting a pall over the men’s status as innocent victims.

 

      

 

It was the first film to have the distinction of being released at the cinema and on DVD and the internet simultaneously, on 14 February 2006. The response was positive for the most part, and the film won the Independent Spirit Award for Best Documentary.

Detractors have criticised Winterbottom for failing to address the Tipton Three’s initial decision to enter Afghanistan. A Times review said:  “The sheer stupidity of these Brits mocks the sincerity of the film. Winterbottom refuses to ask the bleeding obvious. His unquestioning faith in his 'cast' is bewildering”.

No one, however, criticised the film’s highlighting of the alleged human rights abuses at Guantánamo Bay, which Amnesty International have called “the gulag of our times”.