ACLU Brings Premiere of Groundbreaking Robert Greenwald Documentary to Local Communities

Affiliate: ACLU of New York
September 7, 2004 12:00 am

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“”Unconstitutional”” Examines Civil Liberties Violations Since 9/11

NEW YORK-The American Civil Liberties Union and its affiliates will host screenings of acclaimed filmmaker Robert Greenwald’s latest groundbreaking documentary “”Unconstitutional”” in more than 25 states, including a world premiere on September 13 at the University of Texas at Austin and a September 14 screening at Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater in New York.

“”We created ‘Unconstitutional’ to show Americans the extent to which our civil liberties and our freedoms have been trampled upon by our government since 9/11,”” said Greenwald, the film’s executive producer. “”The more Americans understand what is at stake, and what has already been lost, the more determined we become to protect our rights.””

“”Unconstitutional,”” which was written, directed and produced by Nonny de la Peña, explores how the Patriot Act has taken away checks on law enforcement and continues to endanger the civil liberties of all Americans. The Patriot Act, which was passed just 45 days after September 11 with virtually no debate, is being met with a significant grassroots groundswell from across the political spectrum. Resolutions opposing the Patriot Act have passed in approximately 340 communities in 41 states, including four statewide resolutions. These communities represent over 53 million people who believe that the Patriot Act goes too far.

The film’s world premiere in Austin will be followed by a special question-and-answer session with Greenwald, as well as ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero and Sam Hamoui, a Seattle resident whose parents and sister were detained by federal agents. Both Romero and Hamoui are featured in the film.

“”‘Unconstitutional’ is a chilling look at how the Patriot Act went too far, too fast in restricting important liberties while not making us any safer,”” Romero said. “”The ACLU is proud to support Greenwald’s effort to present a bipartisan view of the problems with the Patriot Act.””

By focusing on the personal stories of real people, “”Unconstitutional”” aims to reveal how paranoia, fear and racial profiling have led to gross infringements on freedom and democracy without strengthening national security. In addition to interviews with Romero and Hamoui, the film features a diverse cross-section of people, including:

  • Vincent Cannistraro, former director of the CIA’s counter-terrorism operations
  • Aquil Abdullah, member of the U.S. rowing team at the 2004 Olympics
  • Anne Turner, Librarian, Santa Cruz Public Library
  • Bob Barr, former Republican Congressman from Georgia
  • Major Michael Mori, U.S. military lawyer appointed to Guantanamo detainee David Hicks

Greenwald and the ACLU chose the University of Texas at Austin for the premiere because it is home to a burgeoning film school and it boasts one of the largest student bodies in the country, which will allow for the type of lively and critical discussion that “”Unconstitutional”” hopes to inspire.

Following the Austin premiere, the ACLU will host a major screening in New York on Tuesday, September 14 at Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater, which will feature a question-and-answer session with Greenwald, Romero, de la Peña and Hamoui. More than 25 ACLU affiliates will hold additional screenings throughout September and October, including events in California, Washington, DC, Puerto Rico, Oregon, Tennessee, Michigan, Louisiana and Washington State.

Greenwald has brought more than 45 films to audiences worldwide. In the last three years alone, Greenwald has produced and/or directed more than 30 hours of television movies and miniseries, a feature film and a feature documentary. The films have won numerous awards including 25 Emmy nominations, two Golden Globe nominations and a Peabody Award.

De la Peña has four feature length documentaries to her credit, including the critically acclaimed “”The Jaundiced Eye.”” She has also contributed investigative reports for BBC’s Omnibus & Inside Story, A&E’s Investigative Reports and The Discovery Channel, and was part of the team that created HBO’s “”Death on the Job,”” which was nominated for an Academy Award.

For a complete list of screenings or to view a trailer of the film, go to /unconstitutional/

To learn more about the Patriot Act and the erosion of civil liberties, go to /safeandfree/

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