Tony Blair will have even fewer fans after the shocking documentary Taking Liberties. British filmmaker Chris Atkins has tracked down a host of victims of the increased security measures introduced by New Labour both pre- and post-9/11. From peaceful protesters to suspected terrorists, many have been detained and had their lives turned upside down for flimsy reasons. Disturbing footage combines with amusing testimonies and commentary in this Bowling For Columbine-style documentary that's as entertaining as it is educational.
Atkins goes a long way to make sure his documentary isn't boring: fast editing, an indie soundtrack, and comments from famous faces including Mark Thomas, Claire Short, Tony Ben, Ken Clarke and Boris Johnson mean this is rarely dull. The commentary by Ashley Jensen cites history to argue that New Labour has restricted our civil liberties more than past dictators. Interviewees are articulate, sympathetic and apparently innocent: two young sisters were locked up after a peaceful demo; an RAF veteran was arrested for wearing an anti-Blair t-shirt, and - much more seriously - Moazzam Begg suffered three years of questionable interrogations at Guantanamo Bay - without charge.
"A WARNING AND A CALL TO ACTION"
Speaking out against the proposed identity card scheme, Taking Liberties is both a call to action and a warning against a future where the current restrictions escalate into a Big Brother society. It will doubtless cause controversy, but that's the intention: to start a debate. When it calls itself "The Most Important Film Of The Decade," it may not be exaggerating the point as much as you might think.
Taking Liberties is released in UK cinemas on Friday 8th June 2007.