Screening & Panel Discussion of The Response
Tuesday, October 27th, 2009 at 7 PM
Judson Memorial Church
55 Washington Square South, NYC
Many Thanks to Courtney, who attended the screening and shares this report with the Totally Kate Website. 

I went to the screening of The Response tonight at the Judson Memorial Church in the heart of New York City's Greenwich Village followed by a panel discussion on the film and Guantanamo Bay hosted by Amnesty International.

My friend and I walked the few flights up in the theatre/church space, had our names checked off on the list, were handed programs and took a seat among the over 200 set up seats. It wasn't a packed house, but it was definitely a good crowd, especially for a cold, rainy NY night.

Sig Libowitz, who wrote the film and was one of the actors, welcomed us all and gave us a brief description of what we were going to see, and what to expect after the film.

The lights dimmed and the film started, it was projected on the wall above where the panelists would later sit.

Directly from the program:
The Response is a courtroom drama based on the actual transcripts of the Guantanamo military tribunals [aka the Combatant Status Review Tribunals]. The film revolves around the tribunal of a suspected enemy combatant and the three military judges who must decide his fate. The movie - for the first time ever - holds a mirror up to the tribunals and allows an audience to see and hear for themselves what takes place in Guantanamo.

The first part of the film's script was created directly from actual transcripts from Gitmo and feature the three judges questioning a detainee. The second part was conceptual on what might be said in deliberation and featured the three judges around a table. Kate plays Colonel Carol Simms, one of the tribunal judges, the "bad guy" as she called herself in the panel. I think she had some of the films lighter lines and I laughed out loud when she was "dying for coffee" (it wasn't black though). The Response was rather thought provoking and left me questioning a lot of things... as I imagine was the intention behind it.

The panel was long. Very long. Interesting at times, but the acoustics in the space made it hard to always hear what was being said. All of the actors briefly spoke about their involvement in the project. Kate mentioned taking on the role because she thought it would be fun to play the "bad guy", she also made notice that the writer didn't want her referring to the character as "the bad guy". She also mentioned doing it as she felt it was important. She also brought up the fact that the whole filming process on her end took three days.

The audience was invited to ask questions and we were directed to microphones set up on either side of the house. A reporter got up and mentioned having been to Guantanamo earlier in the year and spoke of the conditions she observed.

It was also mentioned that the film was screened for the DOD (Department of Defense). Peter Riegert spoke a little about that, and the only real comments were about their uniforms (films in the USA can't use actual military uniforms, so they had to be slightly different) and on the length of his hair, which he chalked up to vanity on his part.

Towards the middle, Kate left the stage and the next question was directed at her. When she got back into the room, she just sat in the audience and the question was asked about why she got involved in the project. It was hard to hear exactly what she said other than what she had already said in her initial response, as she was sitting among us now (between 240-260 seats) and had no microphone.

She only spoke the two times, although the director teased her a bit, at one point saying "that Kate doesn't want to talk anymore" (she hadn't said much up to that point to begin with).

At the end I asked if the film would be available to the public at any point, and they said that they were looking into getting it on DVD, but for now their doing screenings around the country.

Here's a poor quality pic from the panel (sorry, but the lighting was pretty atrocious):

The panel from left to right: Tom Parker (Policy director, terrorism/counterterrorism/human rights, amnesty international), Njambi Good (Moderator, director, counter terror with justice campaign, amnesty international), Sig Libowitz (Writer, producer, cast: Captain Miller), Kate Mulgrew (cast: Colonel Simms), Retired Brigadier General James P. Cullen (US Army Judge Advocate General's Corps), Peter Riegert (cast: Colonel Richard Jefferson), and Aasif Mandvi (cast: Al-Aquar)
Oh, and that blue you see above their heads, is the bottom of where the film was projected.

And since it's hard to see, and I always get asked, Kate was wearing a black long sleeved turtleneck, long charcoal gray skirt, black boots, pretty dangly earrings, a necklace with a large disc of abalone or something similar and her blonde hair was pulled back in a low ponytail.

The film was pretty good, and if you get the chance to see it, do (although, fair warning, you may need a dramamine to sit through some of the cinematography).

For more information on The Response visit the movie's website:
The Response Website