The Mauritanian

Der Mauretanier
Mauritanian citizen Mohamedou Ould Slahi is captured by the US Government in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Suspected of having been involved in aiding or even recruiting the hijackers who steered the planes into the World Trade Center, he spends years at the Guantánamo Bay detention camp without being charged or put on trial. Braving contempt and insult, defence attorney Nancy Hollander takes up Slahi’s case and prepares to face the prosecutor dispatched by the military. Acting giants Jodie Foster and Benedict Cumberbatch lend their charisma to these representatives of justice who, although on opposite sides, ultimately unite in valuing moral decency. With his uncanny ability to hide his characters’ intentions, Tahar Rahim is perfectly cast to portray a man who may as easily be unfairly accused as he may be faking innocence. Slahi had confessed to the crimes of which he was accused. But he did so under torture.
Scottish director Kevin Macdonald addresses a dark chapter in American justice in this defiant political thriller based on the 2015 best-selling memoir “Guantánamo Diary” which Slahi wrote while in captivity. The film’s screenwriters have refrained from resolving all the mysteries, thus honouring the importance of examining each case individually – even in the midst of a national outburst of grief and anger.
by Kevin Macdonald
with Jodie Foster, Tahar Rahim, Shailene Woodley, Benedict Cumberbatch
United Kingdom 2021 English 130’ Colour Rating R12

Part of the Berlinale Summer Special


  • Jodie Foster (Nancy Hollander)
  • Tahar Rahim (Mohamedou Ould Slahi)
  • Shailene Woodley (Teri Duncan)
  • Benedict Cumberbatch (Lt. Col Stuart Couch)


Director Kevin Macdonald
Screenplay M.B. Traven, Rory Haines, Sohrab Noshirvani
Cinematography Alwin H. Küchler
Editing Justine Wright
Music Tom Hodge
Sound Design Glenn Freemantle
Sound Mike Prestwood Smith
Production Design Michael Carlin
Costumes Alexandra Byrne
Make-Up Kerry Skelton
Assistant Director Harry Boyd
Casting Nina Gold
Production Manager Jada Thwala
Producers Adam Ackland, Leah Clarke, Benedict Cumberbatch, Lloyd Levin, Beatriz Levin, Mark Holder, Christine Holder, Branwen Prestwood Smith, Michael Bronner
Executive Producers Micah Green, Daniel Steinman, Dan Friedkin, Michael Bloom, Maria Zuckerman, Ryan Heller, Zak Kilberg, Russell Smith, Robert Halmi, Jim Reeve, Rose Garnett, Robert Simonds, Adam Fogelson, John Friedberg
Co-Producers Larry Siems, Donald Sabourin, Mohamedou Ould Slahi

Produced by


Shadowplay Features

Wonder Street

Curlyhead Films

Kevin Macdonald

Born in Glasgow, the UK in 1967, the filmmaker, producer and screenwriter has made numerous award-winning documentaries including One Day in September (1999 Oscar for Best Documentary); Touching the Void (2003 BAFTA for Best British Film of the Year); Life in a Day (2011 Panorama) as well as various artist biographies including Marley (BAFTA-nominated in 2013). His most successful feature films include The Last King of Scotland (winner of a BAFTA and a Best Actor Oscar for Forrest Whitaker), the political thriller State of Play and Black Sea.


1995 The Making of an Englishman; TV documentary 1996 Chaplin’s Goliath; documentary 1997 The Moving World of George Rickey; documentary · Howard Hawks: American Artist; TV documentary 1998 Donald Cammell: The Ultimate Performance; documentary 1999 One Day in September (Ein Tag im September); documentary 2000 A Brief History of Errol Morris; documentary · Humphrey Jennings: The Man Who Listened to Britain; documentary 2001 Being Mick; TV documentary 2003 Touching the Void (Sturz ins Leere); documentary 2004 Touching the Void: Return to Siula Grande; documentary 2006 The Last King of Scotland (Der letzte König von Schottland – In den Fängen der Macht) 2007 My Enemy’s Enemy; documentary 2013 State of Play (State of Play – Stand der Dinge) 2011 Life in a Day (Life in a Day – Ein Tag auf der Erde); documentary · Marley; documentary · The Eagle (Der Adler der Neunten Legion) 2013 Christmas in a Day 2014 How I Live Now 2016 Black Sea · Sky Ladder: The Art of Cai Guo-Quiang; documentary 2017 Oasis; TV movie 2018 Whitney; documentary · Return to Podor; documentary 2020 Life in a Day 2020; documentary 2021 The Mauritanian

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2021