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In our Taking Liberties blog, not only will we keep you uptodate on the progress of the film, we'll also post news about the ongoing civil liberties movements we're related to.

Thursday, 28 June 2007

For a minute we were getting worried...

For a nasty moment it looked like Tony Blair, now he has stepped down from office, would suddenly be prevented from wreaking his unique blend of hapless havoc and authoritarian control freakery on the world. For a minute it seemed like his panicky and ill informed decision making was about to be put well out of harms way. Fat chance. Someone with an obviously sick sense of humour has gone and appointed him Special Envoy To the Middle East. As if he hasn't wreaked enough mayhem and destruction in that unfortunate part of the world during his time as PM, he has been given another year or two of "extra time" so he can really kick the shit out of the region. This is the man who enabled the Iraqi invasion with his unquestioning US support, who turned a blind eye to the Abu Ghraib scandal when he was alerted to it months before it became public, and unswervingly backed US and Israel during last years incursion into Lebanon. It's hard to think of anyone more unqualified to be balanced and impartial and more likely to tow the US Line. Maybe Donald Rumsfeld was busy?

Laughingly the job title specifically does not include "finding a permanent solution", as it is already anticipated that the whole purpose of appointing the dead king to this role is to flatter his vanity, keep the US and Israel status quo in the region, and give the hapless cretin something to do. It smacks more of a PG Wodehouse novella than world politics.... "Henrietta's nephew, the one they called Barmy Blair, was so dashed awful at anything he put his hand to, they sent him to the Navy to keep him out of harms way. Then he sank 3 battleships so then they packed him off to the north pole!"

Monday, 25 June 2007

What Gordon Giveth...

Gordon also takes away. In a move to distance himself with the dying king, PM in waiting Gordon Brown's PR machine has leaked to The Sunday Times that he will repeal section 132 of SCOPA which will remove the protest ban around parliament. Much as we would like to take the sole credit for this symbolic move, Taking Liberties was the last in a long line of angry howls about this ridiculous law. It is presumably to curry some favour with the electorate and show that he is not the same as Tony Blair. However the very manner this was made known to the public (an off the record briefing to a Murdoch Newspaper) shows that things are going to continue at the top just as before. While the Iago of British politics has made it look like he is a fluffy & cuddly libertarian, he will also be pushing policies that include:

-90 days pre charge detention. Blair only managed as far as 28.
-Introduction of new Stop and Question Powers. What Brown is proposing goes way beyond section 44 stop and search.
-"Sharing" all state data with European governments. However as no other European country would dream of collating the level of private data on their citizens as Gordon intends to in the UK, this deal will be about as one sided as our extradition arrangements with the US.
-Support the US desire to send British Residents currently being detained without charge in Guantanamo Bay, back to their home countries where they face torture and death.

Even though the protest ban around Parliament was a smear on our democracy, the above attacks on our civil liberties make the size of Brian Haw's placards pale into insignificance. Gordon Brown's policies will continue to undermine our civil liberties in every area, and a token repealing of one law can only be interpreted as a PR friendly distraction. In fact a stunt like will no doubt make Alistair Campbell and Tony Blair would be extremely proud, and they can rest in the knowledge that even though Blair is a whisker away from leaving Downing Street, his venomous and duplicitous style of governance will remain for many years to come.

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

"Dr" Reid takes a stand for Britain

A few weeks ago the USA decided that it was going to make all British Pakistanis apply for a Visa when entering the US. Traditionally the UK has had a "Special Visa Waiver" system in place for British Nationals entering the US, and we have extended a similar courtesy to Americans visiting Britain. However a month ago, Washington decided that it wanted to make UK citizens of Pakistani origin far more unwelcome in the US, by making them go through the bureaucratic nightmare of applying for a full Visa.

Rather than tell the Americans to get stuffed for this blatant piece of racial profiling (which is exactly what the US and Britain said it wouldn't do after the 9/11 and 7/7 attacks) "Dr" Reid has taken a uniquely craven approach to the negotiations, by offering the US yet more data on British Citizens. Fearing a huge backlash from the Muslim community of Britain, "Dr" Reid has had the novel idea of instead offering the the US Government access to the personal data of "immigration offenders and other 'travellers of interest'." The obvious fear is that anyone can now be deemed a 'traveller of interest', which means that the Home Office will gleefully hand over to the US Government whatever personal data they see fit.

Kettle Confusion

A Journalist with a nose for the truth and a taut grasp of the facts has written an article on us on ABS-CBN News. You need to scroll down to the end of the article, but it is well worth it, as she manages to somehow confuse not only the film and the contents of Kettles snooty article, but also Kettle and myself. I've read that section 3 times and I'm still not sure if she's opposed to our message or not...

There's always someone worse off than you...

Whatever anyone wants to say about the Box Office takings for Taking Liberties, we are at least doing better than the competition. According to The Men in Grey Suits we have had higher attendances than both Black Gold (political doc about coffee) and the John Pilger Film War On Democracy (in fact we have taken more than both of these put together). But we must also thank our stars that we didn't befall the fate of The Chumscrubber. This is a film released at the same time as Taking Liberties, and stars Jamie Bell, Glenn Close and Ralph Feinnes. At the latest tally, it has to date grossed the majestic sum of £94 at the UK Box office. However the reviewers who were unfortunate enough to see it, are amazed that it managed to earn so much.

Friday, 15 June 2007

Scraping the media barrel

The media whore lifestyle continues... I have actually been asked to go on a show called "The Real Deal" presented by George Galloway which goes out on SumoTV (sky channel 146). At least this offer has finally answered the question "are there any depths to which you won't stoop to publicise your film?" as we have respectfully declined.

Tables Turned on Extradition

As the BAE bribery scandal continues to make New Labour look less like a democratic government and more like a greasy fixer for arms companies. Interestingly the US Justice department is now "99% likely" to start an investigation into the massive sums paid to Prince Bandar and others as part of the Al Yammanah deal. Now that the MOD seems to be clearly involved in the payments of these bungs to various shady Arabs, it seems reasonably likely that charges may be brought against officials at the MOD as well as BAE executives. Once charges are brought there will be the interesting situation where employees of her majesties government will be hauled off to the US without any evidence being presented in the UK, under New Labour's one sided extradition treaty with the US. Now that Goldsmith and Blair are both heavily involved with this deal, there is an outside chance that they too could be screwed by the unfair extradition law that they themselves passed. Who says there's no justice in the world?

To show that Britain takes bribery seriously, the government has set up an enquiry (that'll have the Arabs shaking in their well filled boots!) to investigate whether there were vast over payments made. The man appointed to run the enquiry is an ex Lord Chief Justice Lord Woolf. And just to show the world that he doesn't have any truck with officials being overpaid, he has accepted the meagre salary of £6000 a day to run an enquiry into people being given too much money.

Help Tony Watch The Film

Tony still has yet to work a screening of Taking Liberties into his busy schedule. We think it would very unfair on him to miss out on seeing it, so we have set up a petition on teh Downing Street Website to have the film screened in Number 10 on the day he leaves office. Sign the petition here!

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

I'm Turning Into Tony Blair...

It was only a matter of time. I've done a quick appraisal of the last weeks posts on this blog, and they seem the writings of a man obsessed with his own media image, desperately clinging on to the crumbling empire he has built up around him and deluded to the point of insanity on how the public will perceive his legacy. This probably wasn't helped by the fact that I've stopped living off adrenaline for the first time in a year and a half, and my immune system seems to have been detained without trail, resulting in a revolting cold that has rendered me completely incapable of enjoying our moderate success. Anyway, in the interests of this Blog not turning into a self serving ego trip for the director (posts saying "too late" will be deleted...) it seems like we are long overdue some...

Liberty News

Where to begin? We have to start with Tony Blair's final sideswipe at the Media. Tony has either now just completely lost it on the happy pills or is practising for a future career in surreal stand up comedy.

After posing with Wallace and Gromitt outside downing street, the mad king hopped in a limo and went down to Docklands, and blasted a group of stunned hacks for not taking him seriously enough. At one point he appeared to sound slightly self critical when he said that "when he began his premiership there was too much of a reliance on spin". but this turned out to be part of a spiteful rant against newspapers that have stopped reporting facts and stated reporting views. Presumably he was referring to:
-The unquestioning reporting of the government line by most newspapers on The Ricin Case.
-The mad rush to print the governments lies and spin on WMD's the 45 minutes claim and the dodgy dossier.
-The slavish misreporting of the use of the French Veto days before the Iraq War.
-The smearing of David Kelly - after he was dead.
-The blatant use of political arm twisting to win the Hutton case and successfully neuter the BBC.
-The smearing of the Forest Gate brothers, while they detained without charge.

But sadly no. The mad king was talking about further regulations and restrictions on the media, and singled out The Independent as an example of a publication that was getting out of control. Even thought The Indie did not make many friends in this blog by giving us one of the few unkind reviews, Blair has simply descended into childish sniping by attacking the one paper that has actually done it's job over the last 10 years and been a healthy check and a balance on an ever more demonic and authoritarian executive.

Police to sell your DNA Abroad

Yes the British Police have decided that it's not fair to amass the DNA of millions innocent people on a big leaky computer in Britain alone, as it means that only people in the UK can abuse the system. So they have now opened the DNA Database up to all EU member states so that any Tobias, Jaques or Henri can steal and replicate your unique biological blueprint. At least when the access was to UK authorities only, we had some clue of who could have access to your DNA. Now that they have let 15 other countries get their mitts on the database, so practically anyone can access your DNA for a high enough fee. Also the Europeans get a far better deal than we do, as the UK DNA Database is bigger than that of all other member states put together.

Latest Terror Proposals

Are still in complete tailspin. Everyone has revolted over "Dr" John Reid's stop and question powers, but Gordon is still pressing ahead with his 90 days proposals. I haven't had time to do a full response to the consultation paper of last week, but Tim has gone through it and has got it spot on, so check out the detailed criticism here.

Yes there are lots more scary things that we've been sent and will be writing about. Please keep tips and suggestions coming.

And yes I did write a piece for the daily mail. Sort of - I ranted and they ghost wrote it for me - I'm not sure if that makes the situation better or worse. Anyway you can read it and mock here.

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

A different Kettle of facts

On Saturday Michael Kettle - well known New Labour supporter and fan of Tony Blair - wrote an article in The Gaurdian attacking the film entitled "No, we are not living in a Police state". I have written a letter back, but while we wait to see if they publish it, the text is in full below. It did originally have a lot more fruity language in and several jokes about John Ried, but Tim advised me to keep it a bit more reasoned if I want to get it published.

Orginal Kettle Article

My response:

Dear Sir,

It was flattering to open the weekend papers and see that my new documentary, 'Taking Liberties' was not only to be reviewed by the cinema critics but its arguments addressed by the political columnists.

It is a pity, therefore that Martin Kettle ('No, Labour has not turned Britain into a Police State', The Guardian, 9 June, 2007) seems to have misconstrued the core arguments of the film and in doing so, appears to be engaged in what might be equally misconstrued (surely) as patronising point-scoring. Still, I'll reply directly to Kettle's main criticisms.

Firstly, that I paint a picture 'difficult to square with the evidence'. Kettle argues that protest is alive and well in the UK because some people still manage to protest near parliament. True, if you apply for permission a week beforehand then you may be given a license to demonstrate, but this is simply not acceptable in a liberal society. There are quite often times where spontaneous protest is necessary in a democratic society. Would the Government politely give us a week's notice before it starts to bomb Iran? US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, refers to the ‘Town Square Test’ i.e. if you can walk to the centre of your town and publicly criticise your government without fear of arrest you live in a free country. By this test Britain is no longer free society.

Kettle asserts that 'it is untrue that Blair has taken away an ancient right to demonstrate near the House of Commons. There never was any such ancient right.' The issue is rather that in English Common Law the assumption is that an act is permitted unless it is specifically forbidden by statute. Previously this was not forbidden, now we need permission. The government has sought to criminalise what has been previously permissible behaviour, including peaceful protest. The government has gone further, enabling the police to hand out £80 fixed penalty notices for 'crimes' as ludicrous as wearing t-shirts bearing the words 'Bollocks to Blair' - not a crime last time I checked, though as this government has created over 3,000 new offences it will take a while to look.

One of the more common criticisms of the film also raised in the article has been my alleged suggestion that a direct comparison can be drawn between the current government and Nazi Germany. If true, I would agree with Kettle, but we do not live in a police state, yet, and Tony Blair is no Nazi, whatever some of the lunatic fringe may wish to persuade you. What the film does do, however, is give a worst case example of what can happen when civil liberties are taken away: certain initial steps that lead us towards authoritarianism, such as removing the right to protest, the right to privacy and imprisonment without trial.

I want the film to sound a warning that just because we may trust our current leaders, we simply do not know who is going to take the reigns of power in the future. Kettle may be delighted to give up all his personal freedoms to the current Prime Minister, but he cannot know who will inherit them and how irresponsible they may be. I believe it is not yet too late to reclaim some of our essential liberties, but who can say when it will be?

Kettle praises John Reid for his 'emollient tone' in his recent announcements on terrorism. Perhaps he did not hear the Home Secretary’s proclamation that he may soon declare a “state of emergency” to derogate from the Human Rights Act if it prevents him from taking steps deemed against Human Rights. It also seems that when Gordon Brown is already demanding that the pre-charge detention limit is extended yet further to 90 days, that New Labour's onward march against our ancient rights and freedoms will continue undiminished despite Blair’s departure.

What has impressed me most about responses to this film, reflected also by its contributors, is that they go beyond simple left-right partisanship. Yes, I am heavily critical of the current government, but believe firmly that challenges to free speech, the right to protest, the right to privacy and imprisonment without trial to name but a few issues, whether well intentioned or not, threaten the future stability of democracy for left and right alike. So, no, New Labour has not turned Britain into a police state, but it has made it easier for a government in future to do so, and we may not be as far from it as Martin Kettle believes.

Monday, 11 June 2007

Monday Morning...

Just heard from the Men in Grey Suits (aka Dave at Revolver). Apparently cinema attendances all took a hit this weekend thanks to the glorious weather. But we came third in gorssings for new films released in the UK last friday, just behind the edgy low budget masterpiece Oceans 13 and the critically aclaimed Are We Done Yet?

The Men In Grey Suits (not thecast of OC13) beleive we performed pretty well in the circumstances for a documentary, and enough people went to see it to open up a few more bookings for next week - as well as keep the film on in some of the existing screens.

In London (from the 15th of June) we will still be screening at the Curzon Soho, Odeon Panton St, Ritzy Britxton, Odeon Swiss Cottage (daytime only) & Tricycle Kilburn. In addition to the bookings we had for next week anyway, there are new bookings at several other London cinemas in Shepherds Bush, Notting Hill and Fulham - check the cinema listings tab to get updated.

Outside London, we have held on to Oxford, Bath and Edinburgh (this sounds like a medieval military campaign, doesn't it? My Liege, the armies of Exeter are poised to take the vale of Hereford!) in addition to all the other regional bookings we had already got for next week.

Anyway this is all changing on an hourly basis, and the news is a heck of a lot better than it could be. We were on 18 Screens this week and on 17 next week, which seeing as the world and his dog went out into the sunshine over the weekend is pretty good going. Please check the listings tab for where the film is being screened near you.

Last Reviews

I'm very glad that I no longer have to go through the tedious process of pacing up and down outside my local cornershop, summoning up the strength to go in to buy the days papers, terrified of what might be in them. I got especially strange looks on Sunday morning, particularly as the entire Sunday papers put together weigh more than I do and I could barely carry the damn things out of the shop. I think the owner of my local cornershop has me pegged as a schizophrenic on a media studies course who really needs to spend less money on newspapers and more on food.

Anyway the stress was unnecessary as the reviews on the sundays were all great:

4 Stars in Sunday Times and the Telegraph (where we are the highest rated film)

Great Review By Phillip French in The Observer, where he said that you shouldn't vote at the next general election until you see this film. And the Independent On Sunday also gave it a rave review. (Neither the Observer nor the IOS do stars - much too crude.)

Mark Kermode made us film of the Week on Radio Five Live.

So the game is not over yet. Thanks again to those members of the blogging community who rallied round and help swell the numbers. Some nice blog mentions below:

Greedy Capitalist Bastards
And an Excribsitionist

There is also the rant they let me put up on the Guardian Blog Page.

And finally the New Labour defence has come in the form of Michael Kettle article in the Guardian. I will post a proper response to this soon, but it is worth a read and the comments below are very lively.

Friday, 8 June 2007

The Day Of Reckoning

The last year and a half has been building up to this very day. "8th June" has become this mythical - some would say spiritual - date when the axis of destiny spins and all our fortunes will be resolved, for good or evil.

Alternatively it's just the day a film we made opens in some cinemas.

Oh well, I've heard you only go to open prison for bankrupcy and at least I won't have to do any more radio interviews.

Still no word from the Home Office about our ongoing campaign to give John Reid an ASBO. On the other hand we have had some initial enquiries from East Sussex Police...

Last of the National Reviews out today. Peter Bradshaw in the Gaurdian wins for the most eloquent review of our film, and was kind enough to give us four stars.

Also 4 stars in The Express, The Mirror and The Star, The Metro and The London Paper.

But I'm never buying the Independent again.

Big Issue Screening

Practicaly sold out, and raised a lot of money for an extremely worthwile cause. Thanks to Steve Nicolaou for making it happen. A nice chap called Simon Astor watched it and inspired to write a poetical call to arms:

Taking Liberties, a Preview Review
Go and see this film.
Go and see what became of the magnesium moment of the 1960’s: where that freedom burnt out hasbeen buried.
Go and see how those who died, not for us since we were then unborn and unknown to them, but co-opted by the finest words of Churchill, aye, bequeathing us the legacy of ‘The Free World’ in the last world war, died in fact for nought.
Go and see what the Italian Jewish writer, Primo Levi, survivor of the concentration camps, meant when he said that ordinary evil wears the face of everyday men and women blinding the eye of their consciences with the fine upstanding upright of the scales’ impartial ‘just doing my job’.
The circumstance of every age asks where you are in the tipping scales of tyranny and liberty;
Go and see this film: be affected; make a difference - for, make no mistake, unless you do you will have no right to go out about your own business minding your own business: it, you, will all be the state’s.
Go please with someone else and see this film; be affected; make the individual difference you alone can make;
go not gently into the darkness in hearts spreading not only europe but this globed whole world through with its night of the individual's free flame in the name of cultural conflict to preserve it extinguished! the torch of liberty casts no shadow before the voids of cancelled stars that are bushit & bliar and all the behind the scenes uncivil servant masters as 'sauron and saruman' approaching us all in this endless saga older than eternity, not to ask, but to force, which side of thieving the lives of others from them to feed the monster's beak, living utterly brazen, masked only by the inabilty of human consciousness to finally comprehend the sight of its vision is the unsustainable revelation of a terror too far not to have to obscure it with deeds of a darkness putting innocence out of the eyes of a
soul does not make compare; or, coin you not a counterfeit exchange with your conscience, more gold than valuable: clear?
Diamond sighted self lit beacon others unborn yet bright the stumbling way falls off not a face unnoticed.
There will else be nowhere not on a CCTV channel live linked satellite planet wide as hacked ID iris scans of children orphaned of childhood open not to wonder at the heavens broadcast horror to opt out to.

Take and free a Liberty today.

Thursday, 7 June 2007

Can I stop now please?

It's all a bit too much. Really. Take me back to the edit suite - anything is easier than the nervous tension of:

a) Waiting for the reviews to come in
b) Wondering what the weekend box office will be like.
c) Hardly sleeping as I'm doing press day noon and night.

Having said that the Reviews have all been brilliant, but it's a bloody nightmare waiting for them to come in. Today we had:

4 Stars in The Times

And the Scotsman also gave us 4 Stars and said:

"A less hysterical, but still gripping, incendiary and amusing British answer to Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11, Taking Liberties shines a harsh spotlight on Tony Blair and the gradual erosion of civil liberties that have ensued since the soon-to-be-ex Prime Minister took office in 1997. Director Chris Atkins’ thesis is that Blair saw a chance to become a player on the world stage after September 11th and seized it with both hands, becoming George Bush’s lap dog in the process and leading this country into an unpopular and illegal war. That’s hardly new information, but the film delivers a frightening array of evidence illustrating the far-reaching consequences Blair’s determination to be a key figure in the war on terror has already had for us. From the deployment of newly implemented anti-terror laws to lock up peaceful protesters (grandmothers, idealistic students, World War II veterans) to the signing away of extradition rights to America, this fast-paced, informative and thoroughly entertaining film does a good job of mixing the absurd with the serious to wake us up to the fact that we’re all a little less free (and no more secure) than we were a decade ago. An excellent piece of populist polemical filmmaking."

And you can't argue with that. But most importantly - 4 stars in "New!" Magazine. I can now die happy...

Chris is a media whore

Big thanks to John Reid for chosing today to launch his latest liberty busting legislation. This has enabled Revolver to tart me around as someone who will argue the toss on anything to do with civil liberties and of course plug the film at every end and turn.

Radio 5 Live interview

ITN News (this link may not work after a few hours - please flag if it does and we will Youtube if necessary)

Off now to do a piece for SkyNews. Have been up since 5am and it's taken me way too long to write this post, so hopefully I won't come accross as a dribbling mess...

Wednesday, 6 June 2007


It actually happened and was a big success. Huge thanks to Shami, Clive Anderson, David Morrisey, Riz, Nick Clegg and Ken Loach for taking part. But most of all massive thanks to Claire Binns and Marc Allenby for all their help getting this event together and their continued support for the film.

Highlights of the evening were:

-Brian Haw's passionate and extended vocal outburst. I somehow supressed the urge to ask him to leave, as it would have been a bit of an own goal for the director to haul a protestor out of a cinema.
-Riz's handling of Brian's outburst. Perfectly done.
-Clive Anderson's quip about Shami's appearances on Question Time. Sparks flew.
-Nick Clegg's assertion that we couldn't have made Taking Liberties without the work of the Liberal Democrats. Nice try...
-Ken Loach calling the film "Brilliant". Smug to revel in this I know, but it is unlikely to happen again in my career so I'm making the most of it...

And as usual a lively discussion in the bar afterward. By all accounts most of the other previews also sold out... hopefully there are still some people left who want to see it this weekend.

One final preview on thursday at the Rich Mix Cinema in Shoreditch - still some tickets left... Book here

Mewanwhile reviews are coming in thick and fast:

4 Stars in Time Out
Film Exposed Review
Total Film

And a lively discussion on Radio 4.

Interesting to see how the debate centres around the Reichstag sequence and the possible Nazi comparison. For the sake of repeating ourselves:
-We know we break Goodwins law, but you can't tell the story of how we came to entrench our civil liberties after WWII without talking about the Nazis.
-We are NOT making a direct comparison between Blair and Hitler. To do so would be idiotic. We are, as Helena Kennedy pointed out, just showing people what's right at the bottom of the long slope that we are starting to slip down.
-We are well aware of the pitfalls in bringing Hitler and the nazis into a film, which is why we get them out of the way at the beginning and never refer to them again.
-The film does not in anyway infer that Bush and Blair are responsible for either 9/11 of 7/7, as these theories are clearly all poppycock. While it is more or less certain that the Nazis did start the Reichstag fire, we do not make reference to this in the film as it would, quite rightly, make the inference that the recent terrorist attrocities are in some way engineered by the US and UK Governments. We are quite proud of the fact that Taking Liberties is factually unassailable and the last thing we would want to do is give any credence to the array of conspiracy theories out there, that are long on exciting allegations but short on fact.

However it would appear that our fleeting mention of Nazis is going to be the source of heated debate for a while yet.

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Guantanamo Trials

Are in complete disarray. In scenes reminiscent of a Faulty Towers Sketch, it looks like the entire system of Kangaroo Justice at Guantanamo set up by the Bush Administration (with tacit British support) is now about to collapse as some meat head in the US Military didn't fill in the right form. Not just content with detaining people for 5 years without charge and torturing them, Bush and Blair have tried to desperately show the world that these men are all guilty (rather than very unfortunate shepherds) by organising "Military Tribunals" which are essentially a show trial. These tribunals are such a sham, that some seasoned observers have come to the conclusion that it would actually be much fairer on the detainees, if they were tied up and thrown into the atlantic ocean: If they drown then they are innocent and if they float they are a terrorist!

After a lot of wrangling the very first military tribunals finally started, and then collapsed spectacularly almost immeditiately. The first case was of a Canadian National, Omar Khadr, who's case was dismissed as the court had failed to establish jusrisdiction. This honestly stems from the fact that they only classified him as an enemy combatant, not an unlawful enemy combatant. This administrative error also applies to all the other 385 prisoners held in Guantanamo, which is ironic really as it's an administrative error that got most of them got there in the first place.

A new strategy is desperately needed, so The Bush Administration is now searching for a lawyer that is morally bankrupt and out of work, who will say anything for money. Suggestions anyone?

I've actually ironed a shirt

The Panel event is finally upon us. It feels like we've spent more time organising the panel than we have making the film, so it had better be good. The fact that all the tickets sold out so quickly means that none of the people on the panel are going to able to sit in the auditorium as there are literally no seats. No worries - that's why bars were invented.

Some great reviews on:

BBC Films
Eye For Film
Real Movie News

Monday, 4 June 2007

Hay Festival

Was a great success. The screening sold out completely - I know this as I was accosted by Hugh Hudson moments before it started who told me that he couldn't get tickets for love nor money. Great response from the audience (though admittedly preaching to the choir somewhat), and a lively Q&A afterwards. Then they had to cancel the book signing as they had already sold out of books. We have yet to find out exactly how many they had in stock before we get too carried away...

City Screen Panel Event at Clapham Picturehouse Tuesday!

Also sold out. So they moved it to a bigger screen - and that's sold out as well.

However there are still tickets left at the Ritzy Brixton and the Greenwich Picturehouse.

Nice review at myfilmsblog

Gordon Talks Tougher than Tony

Anyone who thinks that as soon as Mr Brown walks through the door of Downing Street, he will immediately start handing civil liberties back to the masses, should have a look at his latest macho proclamations at the leadership "Hustings". Before we examine his liberty busting proposals in any detail, it's worth looking at the use of the word "hustings" in this context. This word is normally used to describe the process by which all the candidates for forthcoming elections make their case before the electorate ahead of a forthcoming election. It seems a bit of a pointless exercise when New Labour have essentially exorcised democracy from the leadership contest, and made sure that Gordon stands for the top job unopposed. Is it technically a husting if their is only one person to hust? Discuss...

But more to the point, when Gordon was husting with himself, he announced a series of measures that signal that he is deftly taking up Blair's authoritarian baton. The most draconian element is the plan to extend the pre-cahrge detention of terror suspects to 90 days.

This proposal is of course not a new one - Blair tried it on immediately after the July 7th bombings, but for once Parliament actually did it's job and voted the measure down - completely humiliating Blair in the process. The New Labour argument fell apart when it appeared that there was no evidence whatsoever that the extension would in any way help the fight against terrorism, and would only serve to alienate the Muslim Community even further. The only people pushing for these powers were the politically motivated members of the British Police who's careers are steered by the Government. In the Taking Liberties Book, we go through the polices argument in detail, and show it to be a collection of falsehoods, exaggerations and downright lies. The most absurd part of the police's argument for extending pre charge detention, was the use of the Ricin trial as an example of how the existing powers weren't enough.


And breathe...

Anyway, when Blair tried to turn the country into a Police state in November 2005 - by effectively giving the police the power to hand out 3 month prison sentences without charge - he was roundly defeated. Gordon now sees this as a way of stamping his authority on what remains of the left of the Labour party, and wants to build on his image of being harder than David Cameron.

But as in the previous attempt to remove Habeas Corpus the Government, Police and Security Services have produced no viable evidence that increasing the pre-charge period will in any way help fight terrorism. There is of course substantial evidence that it will have exactly the opposite effect. When similar laws were introduced in Northern Ireland, it backfired completely, as the apparent injustice of people being detained without charge acted as a recruiting Sergent for the very terrorist cause that the government was trying to eradicate.

There is also irrefutable evidence that the longer someone is held without charge, the more likely they are to confess to something they haven't done. Evidence and confessions obtained from people who have been held without charge becomes more unreliable the longer they have been held. Some experts call being held without charge for long periods tantamount to psychological torture.

The British Authorities are also extremely good at smearing suspects in the media while holding them for long periods without charge. During the Forest Gate Farce, the Bottle bombings (that never happened), and the recent terror raids in Birmingham, senior police officers briefed the Murdoch press and planted stories about the men they were holding. In most cases the briefings turned out to be nothing more than a fabrication that was designed to have the suspects declared guilty by media. The most extreme example of this was when senior police officers briefed against a dead man, and Charles de Menezes was declared a terrorist even before his body was cold.

At the current limit of 28 Days, Britain has the longest pre-charge detention period of any western democracy. But even though we are statistically more likely to win the lottery than to be involved in a terrorist attack, Gordon Brown is hell bent on chipping away at our liberties yet further, just to make sure that world believes that he is "tough on terror".

Friday, 1 June 2007

A Very Strange Day

It all stared down at the Ritzy in Brixton. For reasons I'm legally restrained from divulging, the panel event next tuesday has had to be moved from the Ritzy to the Clapham Picturehouse. The staff at the Ritzy are striking over low pay, and Chris Atkins and the Taking Liberties team completely support the Ritzy staff and BECTU in their industrial action.

At lunchtime interview with the Daily Mail. Yes this will give even more fuel to accusations that this is a right wing polemic, but they seem to like the film a lot and there will be a big piece coming out next week. So on balance we also made sure we did an interview with the Socialist Review as well.

Got back to office to see reviews coming through thick and fast...

Another 5 star review at Shadows on the wall

Great piece on the BBC News Website

And The Londonist is throwing it's weight behind us.

Then someone called to say we've got 4 Stars in The Mirror - life could be worse.

And, much to our horror, we've been emailed some images of a new kind of protest that seems to be springing up. It appears that as a novel way of protesting against the continued inaction of our government over Guantanamo Bay, people are putting hoods over the top of statues of civil rights leaders. Take this one for instance of Fenner Brockway (famous early peace activist and founder of CND).

Neither Revolver Entertainment nor the Taking Liberties team could ever condone this sort of direct action, but if you do end up in the possession of such photos, please email them to us. And if you could use orange hoods instead of black it'll stand out more.

Power to the People

The campaigns to get the film shown locally are all working. Thanks to Dr David Nichol at The Stirrer and my mum, Cineworld Broad St Are screening the film on the opening weekend. Can everyone now please stop sending them emails!

And due to local pressure the film will now be shown in Manchester and Glasgow.

Latest on the Newswire is that it is now booked in London at Odeon panton street and Odeon Swiss Cottage. Blimey - these are proper cinemas. Martin the booker at Revolver has done a fabulous job - especially as the film was only finished 9 days ago.

Now I'm about to jump in a car and drive across this green and liberty eroded land to the Hay Festival where we are the closing night film. We're going head to head with Ronnie Corbett, so we're playing in the bigtime now.

And one morsel of Liberty News....

Majority Of CCTV Cameras in the UK are illegal

You've got to laugh haven't you? New Labour spend hundreds of millions of pounds of our money on CCTV on the pretext that they cut crime, then they do a study in which they discover that they don't stop crime at all, and then we discover that the huge majority of them are actually committing a crime by their very existence.

Not only do most of them breach the information commissioner's code of practice, but they also completely contravene the data protection act. It wouldn't be so bad if there weren't more CCTV cameras in Britain than the erst of Europe put together. Or that they are now being fitted with directional microphones and facial recognition software so they can track our every move and listen to every word we say.

But if you've got nothing to hide you've got nothing to fear!
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