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This taut and important film CHASING FREEDOM was apparently a made for television film in 2004. It is a shame it never made it into the theaters as it is a searing document about the problems of victims from foreign countries seeking asylum in the United States. The script by Barbara Samuels is a brave indictment against the Taliban's activities in Afghanistan as well as a penetrating examination of US bureaucratic bungling in dealing with those who get caught up in the quagmire of red tape in trying to find an escape hatch from their homeland cruelty. It is an honest look at a problem, unbiased, where none of the parties are blameless.

A member of a high profile New York law firm, Libby (Juliette Lewis) is told by her boss that despite her overtaxed workload as a securities lawyer she must by contract take on some pro bono work (as much to make her boss look good as to keep a law firm's reputation spotless). Libby begrudgingly takes on a pro bono case in the department closest to her office - the INS where kind and desperate Eric (Brian Markinson) pleads with her to represent a woman seeking asylum. Libby has a negative attitude toward the process, as much because she knows nothing about asylum cases in law as the fact that she is doing this under duress. Eric introduces her to her client Meena (Layla Alizada) who has fled Afghanistan to escape death because she dared to teach children in Kabul despite the Taliban's condemnation of schools. Gradually the harden Libby discovers the life story of Meena and softens to her cause, devoting herself to achieving the impossible - obtaining asylum for a woman who has no proof of identity and is 'detained' in a brusque INS center like a prisoner.

Though Meena arrived in the US in 2000, by the time her case is extended it is 2001 - and 9/11 has happened, an incident that placed Afghanistan in a bad light. The manner in which Libby works with Meena to gain her flight to freedom is a well-paced, gripping, startling tale - and this is based on a true story.

Juliette Lewis again demonstrates the scope of her talent by convincingly transforming the hard, workaholic lawyer into the compassionate believer in human rights and she is able to make this character development with being cloying or stereotyped. It is a fine performance in a role not of the usual Lewis type. Equally excellent is Layla Alizada, wholly believable as a woman who has endured atrocities only to enter a land that seems cold to her plea for asylum. The two actresses make a fine team. The remainder of the cast is superb and the direction by Don McBrearty is on target. There is a hauntingly beautiful music score by Jonathan Goldsmith the weaves Middle Eastern and Western music into a lush, additive and atmospheric score. This film deserves attention, especially today when our borders are even more blockaded. It is wise to remember the individuals caught up in the problem of seeking asylum. Grady Harp, September 05
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on May 14, 2012
CHASING FREEDOM (2003) with Juliette Lewis.

Set in the year 2001, Lewis plays a high flying corporate lawyer who is ordered by her boss for PR reasons to do some pro bono work and finds herself defending an Afghan woman who has fled Afghanistan and the Taliban for the crime of teaching women how to read. Intially indifferent, Lewis, as she learns the womans story and just what that country is like under the heel of the Muslim barbarians, becomes determined to save this woman. If she fails, the woman will be sent back to Afghanistan...and death.

And then the date is Sept 11, 2001.

A Canadian film that is simply excruciating wrenching viewing as it dramatizes what life is like for the people of Afghanistan under the Taliban. Though Lewis is the nominal star, the film's heroine is the Afghan woman played by Layla Alizada as much of the film is flashbacks to her life back in her country. Lewis's character is intended to be symbolic of the westerner who, so obsessed with their own lives, that they did not know or could not care about the suffering of millions who have fallen under the boot of the Muslem barbarians. And one must concede that, as a woman who slowly begins to realize that the world does not revolve around her, Lewis is quite good. One wonders if she will be blacklisted?

The film also makes an effective dramatic use of 9/11 to show how the Muslem Evil can not be ignored as it will reach out and strike even in Americas cities unless it is fought. A happier ending than the film OSAMA--which this film makes a good follow up to, the film ends before George Bush's liberation of that country and so viewers of a certain persuasion will not be made uncomfortable in, ironically, much the same way Lewis character is discomforted. So the film is safe in that respect.

Recommended. In Canadian and Pashtu.
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on November 12, 2005
This was a very good movie. It was well acted and well scripted. Based on the true story of an Afghan refugee, it shows three different worlds. It touches on the upscale world of a self absorbed lawyer who is forced by her boss to do a pro bono case. It shows the brutal world of Afghanistan under the Taliban. It shows the stark lonely world of incarcerated un-papered (no identification, family, etc) refugees seeking asylum, and how hard that is to get. As our lady lawyer gets to know our refugee, the story of what happened and why she had to escape unfolds. Into the middle of the story falls September 11, and its repercussions on her case, and on asylum in general. The story is gripping from start to finish, and left me feeling I had seen a brief glimpse through a window into another world. One in our own country's immigrant prisons, and all the untold stories of human suffering to be found there.
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on June 7, 2006
I picked this up with about five other high-budget, high-profile movies and this one turned out to be the one I liked best of the batch. It stars Juliette Lewis as an ambitious lawyer, Libby Brock, who gets a taste of real life when she takes a case pro-bono to help an Afgani woman, Meena Gardizi (played by Layla Alizada), gain asylum in the U.S. If she doesn't get admittance, Meena will be sent back to Afghanistan and almost certain death at the hands of the Taliban for running an illegal children's' school.

It appears as if this movie was released in 2003 or 2004, and was produced by Court TV as part of a national awareness campaign. But don't let that scare you. This is a good movie with a good story and worth a look. Although Juliette Lewis gets top billing (probably because of her previous Oscar and Golden Globe nominations), it is difficult for me to define which of the actresses actually has the leading role. Ms Alizada does a fine job, and I would hope to see her in more films.

I should also mention that Brian Markinson appears as Eric Hoffman, Libby Brock's pro-bono mentor. Brian has extensive credentials in TV and movies. He is instantly familiar and does a fine job here.
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on December 25, 2011
The Movie was great, needed to see the movie for a school project - seller got me the movie within days of ordering. Great Seller, would recommend
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on September 14, 2015
A very timely story. Excellent acting and writing. Juliette Lewis fans will really like this one.
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on October 9, 2005
Chasing is an eye opening movie into our asylum process and immigration. For a TV movie, it doesnt leave a bad after taste in your mouth. The acting is above acting and the story is superb. Really well done.
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on June 4, 2015
Good DVD
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on September 27, 2006
Most Americans (and this movie) conflate two different things: (1) whether a person's homeland is unjust, cruel, etc. and (2) whether the U.S. is required to take them in because of this.

Every decent person would recognize the cruelty of the Taliban. Does it follow that we are obligated to take in this person? Why did she not emigrate to Pakistan where the people practice the same religion, etc.? Why does it have to be America?

This movie sends a message loud and clear: America should make its immigration policy even more lax after 9/11 than it was before. This is spelled out in the text messages at the end of the movie. Unfortunately, most Americans agree. The fact that it was this lax admissions policy that made 9/11 possible is lost on this movie and on the moviemakers.

The consequences of this policy are yet to come, but they are building steadily every day.
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on March 4, 2015
Came in without a scratch.
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