New England Law screening of “The Response” - Mar 14, 2012

A screening of "The Response" and panel discussion will take place at New England Law | Boston on March 14, 2012.

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Spreading the Word

"The Response" has been screened at law schools across the country, as well as at the U.S. Department of Justice and Department of Defense (The Pentagon), the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and others. The film was an Official Selection to seven Oscar qualifying festivals, and was short-listed for an Oscar.

Issue in the Headlines

As production of the "The Response" was finishing and the filmmakers entered post-production, the U.S. Supreme Court debated the question of whether the refusal to allow detainees access to federal district court judges is constitutional. The arguments hinged on whether detainees are being denied their habeas corpus rights, a legal principal in existence since the Magna Carta. Habeas corpus, which literally means “to bring the body,” guarantees the accused the right to appear before a judge to determine whether his imprisonment is proper.

“I think this film will be useful for the American public at large,” Prof. Greenberger said. “When the founding fathers wrote the Constitution in 1789, they well understood the concept of habeas corpus. We take for granted that we will never be imprisoned without the ability to be brought before a judge to make a determination of whether or not we were properly imprisoned. Yet these detainees were put in Guantanamo Bay with the idea that they would never ever see a U.S. federal court.”

In a landmark, and hotly contested, 5-4 decision [Boumediene v. Bush, decided June 12, 2008], the Court found that the Guantanamo detainees do have the habeas right to question their detention in federal court. However, the Supreme Court explicitly stated that the Combatant Status Review Tribunal (CSRT) process remains "intact" and that "the Executive is entitled to a reasonable period of time to determine a detainee's status" before the courts may intervene. Therefore, the decision does not directly address or affect the Combatant Status Review Tribunal (CSRT) process itself. These issues remain open – even following President Obama’s promise to close the camps by the start of 2010. What is clear, however, is that Guantanamo will not quickly shut down -- whatever good intentions are brought to bear. The situation has become so convoluted (some would argue bungled) that no easy answer is apparent. Even if the detainees are physically taken off Guantanamo, the legal and moral quandaries of Guantanamo will still be in place. The situation has become even more clouded with the release of the Bush Administration “torture memos.” Evidence has, to many legal experts, become tainted beyond repair by news of extreme interrogation procedures, rendition, and sanctioned torture. It is unclear where future trials would be held, what type of courts would be used, and what body of laws and evidentiary procedures would be controlling. Guantanamo and its spiraling consequences will be with us for a long time to come.

Aasif Mandvi, who plays the detainee in "The Response," has said, “I’m proud of what my country is capable of. But this doesn’t seem like the America that we all hope we are. These are judges from some other weird world. The fact that they are from the American military makes it all the more disturbing. The whole thing is absurd and disturbing.”

“This film made me think about our system of law and how much I take it for granted,” says Peter Riegert, who plays one of the tribunal judges in the film. “9/11 was an event that caused people to respond in a certain way, whether it’s the people who might be our enemy or us as a country or as a people. What’s complicated about Guantanamo is that it’s part of our response.

“The response matters,” he continues. “Anyone can claim to have character, but character is defined by crisis.”

2010 Academy Award short-list

The Response was recently selected by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as one of the 10 semi-finalists that is eligible for the upcoming Oscar for Best Short Film (Live Action).

Oscar Qualifying Festivals

Of the nearly 7000 film festivals held around the world, the Academy (the body that oversees and produces the annual Academy Awards) recognizes less than 70 as official Academy qualifying festivals. "The Response" was accepted as an Official Selection to seven of these qualifying festivals, and was singled out for special honors at two of them.

Festival Participation

"The Response" was selected for participation in numerous festivals, including seven Oscar-qualifying festivals:

USA Film Festival in Dallas

* Athens International Film & Video Festival

* Florida Film Festival

* Cleveland Film Festival

Mammoth Film Festival

The Big Easy (New Orleans) Shorts Festival

Virginia Film Festival

* Rhode Island Film Festival

* L.A. International Short Film Festival

* Palm Springs International Short Film Festival

* Cinequest Film Festival

* Oscar qualifying festival.

Special Festival Recognition

The film won special recognition at these festivals:

Politics on Film Festival
**Audience Award: Best Film**

DC Shorts Festival
**Special Jury Prize**

Additionally, the film was a Finalist at the USA Film Festival in Dallas.

See more about past and upcoming screenings of "The Response."