News of a Kidnapping
Winterbottom and Whitecross went to extraordinary lengths to tell the story of the Tipton Three, hauling their crew on a long, risky, dusty journey. That's the adventurous part, which made this production a road movie for the subjects and filmmakers alike. The defiant part has to do with a sense of quiet outrage that runs through the picture. Some of this tone comes from Asif, Rhuhel and Shafiq themselves, but some also comes from the filmmakers' clear determination to do justice to their story.
It's a story that goes far beyond the immediate characters. As Winterbottom and Whitecross show, the Tipton Three were kept at Guantánamo long after it had become obvious that they had no connection to terrorists. How many others, then, are still imprisoned, even though the jailers know they're guiltless? How many remain caged, or shut up in solitary confinement cells, only because the authorities don't want to admit they shouldn't have been kept at all?
Until we get an accounting, let's be grateful we've got the docudrama.
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A travelogue, a party, a floating psychedelic jam session on the Bosporus, the documentary Crossing the Bridge: The Sound of Istanbul plunges you into more than a dozen different versions of contemporary Turkish music and introduces you to their practitioners, from the celebrated and venerable (film and recording deities Orhan Gencebay and Sezen Aksu) to the young and unknown (the loose collective of street musicians known as Siyasiyabend).
Your guides are the German-born Turkish writer-director Fatih Akin (best known for the drama Head On) and the German composer and bass player Alexander Hacke, who serves as the film's on-camera investigator, recording technician and occasional side man. As you might guess, this creative team values Istanbul as the world's all-time capital of crossover. The filmmakers honor people like Selim Sesler and Aynur, whose deep-rooted gypsy and Kurdish musics were not so long ago despised, or banned. But they're also delighted with the Canadian folk singer Brenna MacCrimmon (who revived a trove of 1950s Turkish songs), Ceza (the liquid-tongued Turkish hip-hop virtuoso) and Duman (the Golden Horn's leading exponent of grunge rock).
"I only scratched the surface," Hacke says mournfully at the end, as he packs up his gear. But that, of course, is the whole point.