Saeed, an African-American Muslim and former Black revolutionary going on 20 years as an FBI counterterrorism informant, agrees to a final job: tail and possibly incriminate a suspected Taliban sympathizer.
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For all of (T)error’s topicality and its thriller-like qualities, what makes the film is Sutcliffe and Cabral’s compact, complex portrait of Saeed – paranoid, chatty, mired in self-loathing, but also oddly reflective… [It] goes from being a tense procedural and absorbing character study to an astonishing, real-life satire about the surveillance state. You won’t know whether to laugh or cry.
As the documentary progresses (and, unbeknownst to Saeed, begins to follow Khalifa as well), Sutcliffe and Cabral artfully lay bare a formerly secret process, and ultimately pose the question: does the public really benefit from programs that compromise the rule of law they claim to be fighting for?
In a society that breeds fear and turns its undoubting citizens against each other, is there a leeway for justice to prevail? True to Godard’s words that all good documentaries tend towards fiction,(T)ERROR brings to us the unbelievable story of a few individuals who get trapped in the system, only because of the colour of their skins and the length of their beards.
A lot of fishy stuff going on out of frame. Would love to read an excoriating tell-all about the production of this movie. it is pretty hard to deny that this is the most important American documentary w/ specifically political implications I have seen since Citizenfour. I wouldn't have gleaned much from this material that I didn't already know if I hadn't seen these actual people knee-deep in this insane shit.
The films' impressive level of access makes for a timely, terrifying, and human documentary. It succeeds simultaneously as portrait documentary and political thriller as we witness the FBI manipulate an ethical informant into the entrapment of an innocent civilian — leaving us questioning first amendment rights, government oversight, and the domestic "war on terror". No surprise that it'll leave with paranoia.
Plenty of manipulation going on in front of and behind the camera. The directors allowing the documentary to simply be swept along by the story.. The ultimate destination is an interesting one, and probably worthy of a film dedicated to delving into it from the get go.
-3. The relevance of this is unquestionable - an insight into an actually very expected series of events and the manipulation of such with a very instrumental, straight-forward objective should be allowed for the public eye to see. This puts in question the familiar saying 'safety first'. On the other hand, so much wasted time on irrelevant questions and dialogue...