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"The War Within" Generates Controversy At Troia FF

Wednesday, June 7---The political thriller THE WAR WITHIN, which is being shown as part of the American Independents competition at the Troia International Film Festival, has been generating controversy and much discussion.

The film, directed by Joseph Castelo, tells the unsettling story of a young Pakistani man who is sent to New York City to be a suicide terrorist. His target is New York's beautiful Grand Central Station, a Beaux Arts train station right in the heart of Manhattan.

The Pakistani, who has been educated in America, is first shown being kidnapped off the streets of Paris, and systemtimatically tortured by an unnnamed terrorist group, who uses the death of the man's brother to stir his hatred against America. The film shows how even highly educated, rather Westernized Muslims can be indoctrinated into becoming martyrs for the terrorist cause.

In America, he stays in the home of a Pakistani doctor who has embraced the values of his new country, along with the hopes that his son will become a good American. The doctor's sister forms a strong attraction for him and the more he stays with the family, and meets more normal Americans, the more ambivalence creeps into his mind.

Director Castelo does a wonderful job in bringing the audience into the conflicted mind of the would-be terrorist, as he struggles between his perceived sense of duty and his own growing conscience at being an instrument of death and destruction.

The tension grows as we become less and less sure if he will be able to carry out his mission, and how those innocents who have harbored him will be treated by the government and the FBI. The film makes a strong case against governmental blindness in implicating even the Pakistani doctor who turns in his friend, as America feverishly throws the innocent in with the guilty in a web of suspicion.

The film generated lively discussion among the Portugese and international directors, producers, film critics and festival programmers who attended the screening. Some saw the film as pure propoganda, but most were impressed with the razor sharp direction, insightful writing and the heartfelt performances of the leads.

THE WAR WITHIN, like the similarly themed PARADISE NOW, attempts to understand the depths of pain that motivates a terrorist to give up the most precious thing any person can have....his life.

Sandy Mandelberger

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Online Dailies from the 22nd Troia International Film Festival

Dates: 2-11 June 2006


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