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May 2001, Week 1


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 7 May 2001 10:28:00 EDT
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In a message dated 5/6/01 6:10:44 PM, [log in to unmask] writes:

<< I wonder if these writers would feel the same way if they received this

treatment.  >>

Strangely enough, that's just what I was thinking this morning, realizing
that I have a talent for being detained and strip-searched:

1974: Canadian border. All eleven of us on an AYH trip were detained for ten
hours, strip-searched, baggage searched, and bicycles taken apart in search
of drugs. We were sixteen years old. And, no, they didn't put the bikes back
together. That took another few hours.

1975. Picked up and taken to police station in Maine for breaking local
curfew laws. (It was 10:00 p.m.). Released an hour later and driven back to

1976: Picked up by Athens, Ohio police for being a) a hippie and b) a Jew.
(Guilty to the second...)

1985: Held at gunpoint by airport security while they searched my rather
large and heavy backpack. Found: 42 P.G. Wodehouse novels in hardcover or
paperback. Gun put away and much laughter on the part of security for
detaining a dangerous book nerd. I myself started laughing about it maybe a
week later.

1990: Strip-searched twice -- coming and going at the Brussels airport on way
to Rotterdam Film Festival to present restored film. It was the month of
Desert Storm: suspected of being an Arab terrorist. (ironic, see above.) Even
funnier: not once did they open up my metal ICC case weighing forty-five
pounds and containing the film, Chang.

2000. Detained for half an hour while luggage is being searched in Toronto
for extra heavy bag. Many, many Milestone leaflets found in bag. Set free.

Okay, only in Athens, Ohio (a town where I stayed the next eight years) did I
see excessive use of authority and did I protest. I think that looking
Semitic (especially when I had the 'fro and beard in the 1980s) has
definitely increased my chance of racial profiling. On the other hand, I
always treated the other detentions and searches as people doing their jobs.
I've always cooperated, had my fingerprints taken twice, and treated the
incidents as part of life. I am also sure that if these are on my record,
it's not even close to the file the FBI has on us for the films we distribute
(Money Man and I am Cuba, I'm told, are the biggest offenses).

So, what's my take on the Panahi situation? Yes, he was treated awfully (and
definitely, others much worse every day around the world--see the "What they
were thinking" photo in this Sunday's New York Times Magazine). Yes, the US
is guilty of racial profiling, as is the rest of the world. Was immigration
totally at fault? I, personally, would have been angry but
cooperated--assuming that no matter what anybody tells me on the phone could
have been wrong. But then, I've lived in the US all my life and I'm not sure
how I'd react coming from a different society. I'm also not sure if Mr.
Panahi is using his position in the film world as a platform to make
injustices known or a way to promote his film. I'd have to learn a lot more
about what happened that day and about Mr. Panahi himself.

Dennis Doros
Milestone Film & Video
PO Box 128
Harrington Park, NJ 07640
Phone: (201) 767-3117 or (800) 603-1104
Fax: (201) 767-3035
Email: [log in to unmask]

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