Movies That Matter: 10 Jaar (DVD) – Movie(s) Review
Follow Genre: Drama
Director: Various
Distributor: Cinéart
Duration: 92, 119 and 93 minutes

Movies That Matter: 10 Jaar (DVD) – Movie(s) Review

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Stichting Movies That Matter sprouts from the Amnesty International Film Festival and tries to make people aware of what is going on in the world, all while trying to battle indifference. By showing topical films, they try to raise awareness for the sometimes gruesome things that happen in this world, thus evoking debate and dialogue. The DVD box we’re about to review is a selection of films that Stichting Movies That Matter selected for their ten year anniversary.

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The first film in this set of three is ‘The Road to Guantanamo’. This docudrama film tells the story of three British young men, Ruhel Ahmed (Farhad Harun), Asif Iqbal (Arfan Usman) and Shafiq Rasul (Riz Ahmed), who later became known as the Tipton Three. In September 2001 they travel to Pakistan to attend a friend’s wedding, but they soon decide to make a little trip to Afghanistan, curious to see what is going on in that region. After being in Kabul for about a month, they head back to Pakistan, but from then on, things start to go terribly wrong. Instead of taking them to the Pakistani border, their van takes them to the frontline, where Taliban are fighting the Northern Alliance. They have been wandering around for a few days after their convoy was hit by an airstrike, and when they finally meet some Taliban warriors, they ask them to take them to the border. Unfortunately, they all get captured by the Northern Alliance, and since they have nothing with them to prove that they are British citizens, they are transferred to the United States Military, who soon fly them over to Guantanamo, as they believe they are Taliban fighters. All the time while in American custody, they are regularly being interrogated, as well as tortured sometimes.

The film tells a true story and although most of it is acted, these sequences are alternated with interviews with the real Tipton Three, as well as real footage of the war in Afghanistan. This mix makes sure the story gets even more real, while at the same time the alternation also interrupts the action, which is not necessarily a bad thing, as the scenes are sometimes poignant to watch.


Second in line, there is ‘In a Better World’. In this film there are two stories that, at first glance might seem completely different, yet they have quite a lot in common. In a Danish secondary school, Christian (William Jøhnk Nielsen) beats the bully of his friend Elias (Markus Rygaard) to a pulp and threatens him with a knife, as he believes ‘an eye for an eye’ is the only way to stop violence. His father is furious with him and tries to explain that, due to that point of view, many wars have begun. Meanwhile, Elias’ father Anton (Mikael Persbrandt) is working as a doctor in African war territory, where he often has to treat pregnant women who’s belly was cut open by Big Man (Odiege Matthew), the leader of the rebels, to see whether it was a girl or a boy. When Big Man himself enters the camp, asking Anton to treat his injured leg, Anton stands before the hard decision whether to treat this monster, or leave him to die.

Even though both storylines are very different, they handle the same question. While Christian has already decided that he should treat violence with more violence, Anton realizes that violence is not the answer, even in the cruel situations he sees in Africa. He also tries to tell Elias and Christian so but Christian will have to find out for himself that Anton is right. Anton is the key figure in the film, as he ties the two stories together. The emphasis is on the storyline in Denmark, but it quite striking to discover that this incident in a secondary school is so much related to the horror that Big Man brings in Africa.


‘Timbuktu’ is the last film in this box. In the city, the Islamic group Ansar Dine is now in charge, prohibiting music, laughter, football, lingering around, as well as obliging women to cover their heads and wear gloves. Not far outside Timbuktu, Kidane (Ibrahim Ahmed) lives with his wife Satima (Toulou Kiki) and their daughter Toya (Layla Walet Mohamed). They are Touareg who live off the cattle they herd. One day, Kidane gets into a fight with a fisherman, resulting in this man’s death. Kidane will be tried according to the Sharia. Kidane’s crime is quite a serious one, even though he didn’t mean to kill, but he’s not alone in prison. Others will also be punished, simply because they played a game of football, or sang a song.

While the film sometimes shows raw images of people being whipped or dug in, with only their heads sticking out, it also shows how people oppose these sudden new laws, as well as how they try to be creative and positive, for example when youngsters keep playing football, be it without a ball. Kidane’s story isn’t always brought very clearly, but the main focus of the film is ever so clear, namely the oppression by the Islamic group and the way Timbuktu’s inhabitants try to deal with it. Also the new recruits of the Jihadi are presented in a humanly way, as they often don’t really know what to do, or whether or not they actually believe in the policy of their group.

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In both ‘The Road to Guantanamo’ and ‘In a Better World’ the flow is quite fast. Certainly the first one sometimes takes big steps, but because the story is also clarified by the interviews, it’s not a bother. The latter one has a lot of story to plow through, and tells the Danish story quite meticulously, while the African one is told in just a few scenes. ‘Timbuktu’ is probably the most quiet film, as the story is brought in quite a straightforward way.

Apart from the usual trailers, there are no extras on any of the DVDs. Only Timbuktu offers a small extra, namely a clip of the title song ‘Timbuktu Fasso’. The box also comes with a little booklet in which the films get a bit more of an explanation.


This Movies That Matter DVD box contains movies that, one by one, have an important message about violence and oppression. All three films handle a completely different topic, and while some of these situations are further away from us than others, it is eye-opening to see that in every society human rights can be threatened.

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