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Social Panic at Sundance


Recently, I had the chance to see The UnRedacted, an American documentary film about a group of al-Qaeda-trained men who’d been transferred from the Guantanamo Bay detention camp to the “Prince Mohammed Bin Nayef Center for Advice and Care,” a Saudi Arabian rehabilitation center for extremists. I was seated in a 50-seat theater on Wilshire Boulevard. in Los Angeles—a somewhat obscure venue for a film that had received many glowing reviews following its virtual premiere at Sundance (under the name Jihad RehabIn January, he remade the film. The film’s downfall is due to a group primarily Muslim filmmakers, who claimed the film was Islamophobic. Their complaints caused film-festival executives to disavow the film; which in turn prompted the movie’s own executive producer, Abigail Disney (who’d previously hailed the film as “brilliant”), to denounce it as well, amidst a flurry of apologies for having “hurt those whom I have always meant to support.”

At the recent LA screening, I watched alongside the filmmaker, Meg Smaker—who, unlike the four ex-Gitmo prisoners profiled in the documentary, is neither male, nor Muslim, nor Arab. I waited to see the scenes that would lead to the film’s cancellation as it rolled. According to the filmmakers who’d successfully demanded the…

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