LETTER TO OBAMA

KHETAB ELA OBAMA

By Ayman MOKHTAR

TRIMART LTD - as PROD

Drama - Completed 2012

Based on a true story, a liberal Egyptian politician faces torture in a notorious Cairo prison under Mubarak’s dark regime.

    • Year of production
    • 2012
    • Genres
    • Drama
    • Countries
    • EGYPT, UNITED KINGDOM
    • Languages
    • ARABIC, ENGLISH
    • Duration
    • 90 mn
    • Director(s)
    • Ayman MOKHTAR
    • Writer(s)
    • Ayman MOKHTAR
    • Producer(s)
    • Ayman MOKHTAR
    • Synopsis
    • Letter to Obama is based on a true story. This is Mubarak’s Egypt in 2005. Tora is one of the most notorious prisons in the country, where torture is a daily reality.
      Prisoner Ayman Nour, Mubarak’s rival in the 2005 presidential elections and a recent arrival at Tora, first meets his torturers at a “reception party” thrown to welcome him to Tora, where they beat him until he faints.
      Ramzy, the prison officer in charge of Nour’s torture, takes a particular pleasure in humiliating Nour. To Ramzy, torture is a twisted way of building a relationship with his prisoners.
      Gamila, Nour’s wife and political partner, tries during her prison visits to keep Nour’s spirits up. She and Nour agree to file a torture complaint with the Human Rights Watch (HRW).
      Nour’s torturers throw him another party, beating him even harder, as a gesture of goodwill for the HRW investigators arriving at Tora the following day. HRW turns a blind eye to what happens at Tora Prison. Heart sinking, Nour realises he is on his own in the nightmare that is Tora Prison.
      Gamila’s visits continue and she tries to keep Nour involved in the political scene outside the prison walls. Her attempts are futile. Losing hope in the outside world, Nour accept Ramzy’s torture as a fact of life. Torture continues and Ramzy enjoys his work while Nour submits, until one day Nour is pummel led so hard his captors must transfer him to hospital.
      Gamila tells Nour that the doctors are concerned about his heart. The government rejects the expert medical opinion, deciding instead that Nour is fit to continue his five-year prison sentence.
      Suspecting Mubarak’s regime will not let him leave Tora prison alive, Nour decides to speak out from within Tora Prison. In a series of letters he smuggles to his wife, Nour criticises Mubarak’s government and exposes the regime’s faults. Nour’s letters get published and become a nation-wide sensation.
      Ramzy ups his torture game with Nour, trying to stop him from writing, but Nour continues smuggling his articles from inside Tora to the outside world. Nour’s torture continues and so do his letters from behind the bars.
      Nour’s writing angers many government officials; eventually a court ruling bans him from writing to his wife. Desperate now, Nour decides to pen one last letter: addressed to Barack Obama, the US senator running for president.
      In June 2008, Nour writes his famous ‘Letter To Obama’, which is picked up by national and international media, causing embarrassment to Mubarak’s regime in the international community.
      On 20 January 2009, Barack Obama gives his inaugural address in Washington DC as the first black president of the United States. In his speech, Obama calls on the leaders of the Muslim world to embrace democracy, and for the leaders of wealthy nations to pay attention to what happens beyond their borders. “For the world has changed, and we must change with it”, says Obama.
      Four weeks later, on the morning of 18 February 2009 – just a few months before Nour completes his five-year sentence – in an unexpected turn of events Nour is taken from his cell, thrown into a police car, and suddenly released from Tora prison.
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