Dir. David Felix Sutcliffe
Review By Greg Klymkiw
In March of 2005, a 16-year-old honours high-school student living in Harlem was arrested and incarcerated (kidnapped and wrongfully jailed) by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (America's Schutzstaffel, more commonly known as the S.S.) under the spurious, unfounded suspicion of training with Al-Qaeda as a terrorist suicide bomber.
After being dragged from her home, family and in the middle of a successful school year (that was scuttled by this immoral action), the FBI decided they had nothing on her, so the American Government, in its racist policies masquerading as a war on terror on home turf, instead placed her under a strict curfew (replete with ankle bracelet to monitor her comings and goings) and charged her with being an illegal immigrant, in spite of the fact that she had been living in America since the age of 5 years old.
Her friend, also arrested, wasn't so lucky. She was immediately deported to Africa. Her father, was even more unlucky. He was imprisoned for 16 months and then deported to Africa. Without a sole bread-winner, the teenage daughter had to give up school completely to earn money for her mother and younger siblings. She was then flung into the harrowing experience of never knowing if she would be deported or not.
Welcome to America's War on Terror against the innocent and driven by racist racial profiling of the most heinous, egregious kind. The aforementioned events represent the tip of the iceberg that is the story of the innocent teenage girl of the film's title Adama. This terse, powerful 60-minute documentary was produced for PBS in 2011 and directed with both economy and urgency by David Felix Sutcliffe. It presents a world of Kafkaesque horror and plays out like a direct cinema thriller steeped in humanity.
We experience the terror of this young lady as she is dragged through endless immigration hearings over a period of months, all of them inconclusive and adding to the fear and paranoia of both Adama and her family. There's one set piece in particular that is on-the-edge of the seat scary as she races back to her home, fearing she'll be late for the ankle-monitored curfew (the result of which could mean re-incarceration). There's also the very real threat of other petty bureaucratic agencies investigating the lack of money in the household and considering the horrendous solution of breaking the family apart into the foster-care system. One of the most deeply moving sequences involves Adama's brother pleading to America to leave his innocent sister alone and to let his family continue as they have to live freely in America and to experience a better life.
Sutcliffe has fashioned a sickening, alarming portrait of America's delusional and just-plain mean-spirited war against people of colour in the name of protecting the country. It's not a pretty picture and for much of the film's running time, you will be outraged, frustrated and thrust into Adama's point of view.
What America has been doing and continues to do is appalling. Adama is a film that puts a very human face to the country's own acts of psychological terrorism. And Canadians, no need to be smug, our country has been racial profiling for a long time - see my review of the powerful Hot Docs entry from last year, Amar Wala's The Secret Trial 5. And if what you see in that film and Adama is scary, just wait until Chancellor (Canadian Prime Minister) Stephen Harper enacts his grotesque anti-terror legislation which will plunge the country beyond America's bilious attack on human rights all in the name of Der Führer Harper's belief that "Jihadist terrorism is not a future possibility, it is a present reality.”
See Adama, see Sutcliffe's new documentary feature (T)error, see The Secret Trial 5. The real terrorists are our own governments. We, the people, are supposedly the government. Not so. We're mere fodder for the attack upon anyone even vaguely outside the Status Quo.
THE FILM CORNER RATING: **** Four Stars
Adama is available to be viewed for FREE online at Sutcliffe's Vimeo page HERE. (T)error will play at the 2015 Hot Docs (The Film Corner review coming soon).