Directed by Kevin Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland) and based on the New York Times best-selling memoir “Guantanamo Diary” by Mohamedou Ould Salahi, The Mauritanian is the inspiring true story of Salahi’s fight for freedom after being detained and imprisoned without charge by the US government for years. Alone, with no access to the outside world, Salahi (Tahar Rahim) finds allies in defence attorney Nancy Hollander (Jodie Foster) and her associate Teri Duncan (Shailene Woodley) who battle the US Government in a fight for justice that tests their commitment to the law and their client at every turn.
Their controversial advocacy, along with evidence uncovered by a formidable military prosecutor, Lt. Colonel Stuard Couch (Benedict Cumberbatch), uncovers shocking truths and ultimately proves that the human spirit cannot be locked up.
The film, originally titled Prisoner 760, was largely shot in South Africa early last year and had many local cast and crew involved in the production. To locate the backdrop of four, very distinct worlds the filmmakers scouted a few international countries which could offer the full basket of their location and production requirements. Academy Award® nominated Production Designer Michael Carlin explains, “we scouted in Morocco and in Serbia, and in the end Cape Town ticked most of the boxes; there is a lot of architecture that we could use and adapt to suburban America; an excellent construction and art department crew to build big sets; and many people with military training and extras with the right look for a number of characters, such as the guards; and in addition we were able to shoot a big part of Afghanistan.”
The only scenes the filmmakers chose not to shoot in Cape Town were those set in Mohamedou’s country, Mauritania in West Africa. “We want to honour Mohamedou, his heritage, his family and his environment -properly,” acknowledges Clarke.
Due to its vastness the GTMO set was built in three locations; the main composites of Camp Delta and Camp Echo were constructed in Paarl, an hour outside of Cape Town, with other sections of the same composite set on the beach at Strandfontein, which closely resembles the location of the real bay, and the real camp in Guantanamo. Other set elements were constructed at the Cape Town Film Studios.
The film has also received many accolades from first screenings particularly for the acting of Tahar Rahim as Slahi and a Golden Globe win for Jodie Foster as Best Supporting Actress.
I’ve attached some great additional info around the film such as talking points raised by the film used by Amnesty International as well as various press breaks to give you some more oversight on the film.