Benedict Cumberbatch and his company Sunny March will co-produce the movie adaptation of Guantanamo Diary, along with Zero Gravity. Cumberbatch, star of the television series Sherlock, will be working with Michael and Christine Holder of Zero Gravity and with former 60 Minutes producer Michael Bronner, who is writing the script, as well as with film producers Lloyd and Beatrice Levin. The film does not currently have a release date.
Guantanamo Diary, published in January of 2015, is the 466-page handwritten account of Mohamedou Ould Shalhi, a 44-year-old North African suspected terrorist who has been incarnated in Guantanamo Bay for 14 years, shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, without being charged with a crime and unable to defend himself. During his imprisonment, Shalhi has been subjected to “enhanced interrogation techniques”, which included having his ribs broken, being kept awake for days, and being sexually humiliated by female soldiers. His harrowing account has shed a glaring light on the dehumanizing and legally ambiguous practices of the American military in Guantanamo Bay. Shalhi is still currently incarcerated, following a 2010 ruling ordering his release which was overturned by the Justice Department. Many hope that the film will bring more attention to his story and help expedite his release.
Zero Gravity has produced numerous groundbreaking movies in the past few years, most notably Beasts of No Nation (2015), a Netflix original film. Currently, they are working on The Accountant, directed by Gavin O’Connor, set to be released in October of 2016 as well as a Netflix original series, Ozark, also set for release in October 2016.
Lloyd Levin and Michael Bronner were the producers of director Paul Greengrass’s films United 93 (2006) and Green Zone (2010). Bronner has followed Shalhi’s story extensively, but has not been allowed direct access to Shalhi himself. He will rely almost entirely on Shalhi’s account for the screenplay.
The announcement of Cumberbatch joining the Guantanamo Dairy project comes shortly after CIA director John Brennan told NBC News that he would not engage in any “enhanced interrogation techniques” even if ordered to do so by the Commander-in-Chief.
For more information on Mohamedou Ould Shalhi and Guantanamo Diary, and to read the declassified original manuscript, visit GuantanamoDiary.com. Subscribe to FilmBook by email or follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr or Google + for updates.