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Jonathan Hodgson, Senior Lectuer in Animation

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Guantanamo Bay: The Hunger Strikes

Guantanamo Bay: The Hunger Strikes

October 2013

Jonathan Hodgson was animation director, designer and art director of a five minute animated film for The Observer spearheading a humanitarian campaign to raise awareness of the plight of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp. Many of the 120 prisoners at GTMO detention camp have been held by the US government for more than 11 years without charge, trial or release date. Many of the detainees have lost hope of ever being released and as a last resort have chosen to end their lives by going on hunger strike. However the prison authorities have even taken away their right to die and are force feeding them. Hodgson commented on the process of making the film: "Unlike many film narratives, there was no obvious way to give a structure to this film. The prisoners exist in a state of uncertainty, hanging in limbo and I felt that perhaps the best way to approach the film was to focus on the daily routine of systematic abuse experienced by the prisoners and in particular show the force feeding procedure in minute clinical and graphic detail. The Observer gave me access to many pages of interviews with detainees recorded by visiting defense lawyers from the Reprieve organization. I was struck by how similar and repetitive many of the accounts were and gradually the many stories seemed to merge into one grinding treadmill of human rights violation. Clearly it is not appropriate or even possible to create an entertaining film based on this subject, so instead I chose to give the audience as unsettling an experience as possible to give an an insight into the unrelenting misery these detainees are experiencing. The film was premiered on the Observer/Guardian website in October 2013."