Beneath the Blindfold

Thursday: 2:30 pm – La Casa Grande
Friday: 1:30 pm – Domenico’s
Saturday:  9:00 pm – Hendricks Art Center

Beneath The BlindfoldCategory: Documentary
Country: USA
Language: English
Rating: PG-15
Runtime: 53 min.
Directors/Producers: Kathy Berger and Ines Sommer
Website: Beneath The Blindfold
Facebook:  Beneath The Blindfold

In a time when fictionalized accounts dominate the public’s understanding of torture, the new documentary “Beneath the Blindfold” reveals the reality of life after torture. With a gently insistent voice, the film follows four torture survivors as they struggle to make new lives for themselves and heal their deep physical and psychological wounds.

There are more than 500,000 torture survivors who live in the U.S. today, many of them refugees or political asylees. In “Beneath the Blindfold,” we meet Blama Massaquoi, who was a child soldier in Liberia and struggles with debilitating physical injuries, yet retains a caring spirit; Matilde de la Sierra, a physician who worked with the indigenous people of Guatemala and is haunted by frequent flashbacks; Hector Aristizabal, a theater artist and therapist originally from Colombia, who has transformed his rage into art; and Don Vance, a U.S. Navy veteran and former security contractor in Iraq, who was placed in the detention system for enemy combatants in retaliation for whistle-blowing.

Co-directed by Chicago filmmakers Ines Sommer and Kathy Berger, “Beneath the Blindfold” paints a holistic portrait of these survivors as we follow them through the daunting steps of building new lives, careers, and relationships. And despite the continued psychological and physical fallout from their experience, they feel empowered to speak out and become public advocates for an end to torture.

With the release of “Zero Dark Thirty,” public discussions about ‘enhanced interrogation’ have arisen again. The voices of torture survivors are rarely included in these current or past public discussions. But without their stories, torture remains abstract and misunderstood, a practice that happens to people we neither know nor care about. Named “Best Political Documentary of 2012” by the Chicago Reader, the film takes an unflinching look at the consequences of torture through the eyes of survivors while also celebrating their ability to regain agency and hope.