28th Ji.hlava International Documentary Film Festival

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The Hostage Takers
The Hostage Takers
The Hostage Takers

The Hostage Takers

director: Søren Klovborg, Puk Damsgård
original title: The Hostage Takers
country: Denmark
year: 2023
running time: 86 min.


The Beatles was the nickname given to several Islamic State fighters originally from the UK who were responsible for a series of kidnappings, torture and executions of Western journalists and aid workers. A surviving Danish photographer tells his story and, with the help of testimony from others involved, gives a detailed account of the horrors he experienced. The second strand of the film features interviews with two of the detained members of the Islamic Beatles, conducted by a British journalist whose friend was executed by the group. This opens up moral dilemmas and questions about guilt and punishment: who deserves empathy and who is not entitled to it?

“If I had wanted to cause damage, I could have caused real damage, but that was neither the objective nor the aim.” — El Shafee Elsheikh


Søren Klovborg is originally from Denmark. He works as an investigative journalist and has been working in documentary filmmaking in recent years as a producer, screenwriter and director. His film Maid in Hell (2018), about the labour and sexual exploitation of young immigrant women in wealthy households, was screened at the One World Festival. Puk Damsgård (1978) is a Danish Middle East correspondent and bestselling author. She received numerous prestigious awards, her book ISIS Hostage was adapted into a film.

more about film

director: Søren Klovborg, Puk Damsgård
producer: Søren Klovborg
Ministerstvo kultury
Fond kinematografie
Město Jihlava
Kraj Vysočina
Creative Europe Media
Česká televize
Český rozhlas