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Cinematic perspectives on the war on terror: The Road to Guantnamo (2006) and activist cinema

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Starting from the premise that Michael Winterbottom's films exemplify a certain model of transnational cinema, because they are made with international crews and casts, shot on location around the world, financed by transnational capital, and concerned with questions of borders, immigration, imperialism and identity, this article offers a close analysis of The Road to Guantnamo (2006) in order to set out the kind of political practice it claims Winterbottom's cinema enacts. The Road to Guantnamo appears to have been conceived as a very precise and partial intervention in the mediated public sphere: it was released simultaneously in cinemas, on broadcast television, on DVD and over the internet for streaming and downloading. By addressing multiple and overlapping publics in this particularly direct way, the film was revealing its partial and contestatory status, a status deriving as much from the multiple media of its transmission as from its content. Offering a close analysis of the heterogeneous composition of The Road to Guantnamo and the striking coolness and neutrality of its style of docudrama (also characteristic of Winterbottom's other films), the article concludes that the film may refrain from political affect because of its concern with political effects, and addresses specific and informed publics in a new type of political practice made possible by transnational media and a recently transnationalized public sphere.
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Keywords: Guantnamo; borders; docudrama; heterogeneity; terror; transnational

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Institute for Cultural Research, Lancaster University.

Publication date: September 22, 2008

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  • The journal aims to provide a platform for the study of new forms of cinematic practice and fresh approaches to cinemas hitherto neglected in western scholarship. It particularly welcomes scholarship that does not take existing paradigms and theoretical conceptualisations as given; rather, it anticipates submissions that are refreshing in approach and exhibit a willingness to tackle cinematic practices that are still in the process of development into something new.
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