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Friday 07 December 2018, 14:23 pm.
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Rendition (2007), a.k.a Extraordinary Rendition, has been playing at the New Capitol Cinemas. This is South African filmmaker Gavin Hood's first movie to be made in Hollywood. Rendition is in the spirit of the new style of leaping, episodic film making found in award winning films with one word titles such as Babel, Crash and Syriana.
By Staff Writer Sun 09 Dec 2018, 22:38 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: BACK STAGE








Rendition quickly establishes the three venues: Chicago; an unnamed North African city (filmed in Marrakech and later Casablanca); and Washington, DC. It opens misleadingly with a brief exit from Cape Town, where Anwar El-Ibrahimi (Omar Metwally) has been to attend a conference. Anwar is a $200,000 a year high flying chemical engineer, who studied at New York University, and has a mother, wife, son and another on the way in Chicago.

His mistake is not to have committed to the United Sates by becoming a citizen. Anwar El-Ibrahimihas a Green Card and an Egyptian passport. He has also received calls on his cell phone while in Cape Town from a terrorist leader, Rashid, something that will soon justify his detention. In Chicago his expectant wife is Isabella Fields El-Ibrahimi (Reese Witherspoon). They met at college and she is raising his family, including six-year-old Jeremy (an expressive Aramis Knight).

In North Africa there are three complicated interrelated stories being told. Pay attention, or you'll get lost. The first concerns Abasi Fawal (Igal Naor) an anti-terrorist leader committed to extracting information from suspects through various refined techniques of torture (nudity, water immersion, the hole, electric shock and more).

When not at work Fawal is a family man with a wife and two daughters. He has decided to marry off his adolescent daughter, Fatima Fawal (Zineb Oukach), but she has already fallen under the spell of Khalid El-Emin (Moa Khouas), a young artist with a commitment to kill Fawal, Fatima's father, because Khalid's brother died while being tortured. Secretly Khalid has joined El Hasim and is ready to use "God's weapon" - his body -in the cause. Fatima discovers his secret life as a reluctant jihadist too late. Why committed idealists are willing to sacrifice their lives to a cause is treated better in Paradise Now (see Mmegi 9th January 2007).

The first suicide bomber fails in his attempt to kill Fawal. A piece of a flying metal does kill the head of the local CIA branch. As a result a CIA analyst, Douglas Freeman (a laid back Jake Gyllenhaal), takes over, assuming responsibilities that distract him from his affair with his secretary, his enjoyment of the hookah and his mingling with local decision makers.

Freeman is now sucked into his first direct experience of torture. On his flight back to Washington, DC, Anwar vanishes. He is deleted from the passenger list. When he cannot explain himself adequately to the CIA operatives who have seized him he is whisked

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off on a private jet to the North African city where Fawal and Freeman will deal with him. Here he can only protest his innocence and endure what his torturers inflict on him. Freeman as an "observer" suddenly and most unexpectedly develops a conscience.
Anwar's "extraordinary rendition" is approved by a senior CIA officer Corrinne Whitman (Meryl Streep) who believes that the information gained from torturing suspects overseas justifies violating their rights. When confronted she can say with a straight face, "Americans don't torture", because they have delegated it to their lackeys outside United States territorial boundaries (but the truth of Guantánamo Bay and bases in Iraq and elsewhere blatantly contradict this assertion). Again the means justify the ends and if basic human rights are violated, so what? is the attitude.

The so-called "war on terrorism" justifies making aspects of the US Constitution null and void, thus throwing civil liberties out the window. When her husband fails to arrive in Chicago, and she is told he was not on the plane to DC, Isabella does some quick research and finds he made a credit card purchase on the flight from Cape Town to Washington.

Therefore, he was on the plane (moral of the story, always use your credit card in the air if you want a record of your flights). With this information she seeks out help in the capitol from a former NYU classmate, Alan Smith (Peter Sarsgaard), who quickly sees a human rights violation. He tries to take it to Senator Hawkins (Alan Arkin), whom he works for, but Hawkins won't rock the boat. [Didn't Congress vote Bush the powers to wage the war of terrorism? Wasn't "extraordinary rendition" begun under President Bill Clinton?]

Gavin Hood is a South African director who first made a mark with The Storekeeper (1998) and A Reasonable Man (1999) a marvelous film about a Tokolosi, but only received worldwide recognition with Tsotsi (2005) (see Mmegi 3 March 2006). Hood already has two more Hollywood films in the pipeline for this year and 2009.

Rendition is two hours long. It is rated 13+ because of violence and nudity [the torture sequences in the dungeons are actually very indirect]. The director is Gavin Hood. The cinematographer is Dion Beebe.

The editor is Megan Gil. The haunting music is by Paul Hepker and Mark Kilian. When I saw Rendition at Riverwalk NCC the credits were terminated early, so I do not know who sung the mysterious melodies.
sasa_majuma@yahoo.co.uk

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