The drama of Sami Al-Arian’s federal trial played out on the big screen Wednesday night in a packed theater in Tampa.

A documentary filmmaker premiered the film “U.S.A. vs. Al-Arian” in Tampa. It’s the first dramatization of the terror trial that dragged on for six months.

If the crowd at the premiere was any indication, the Sami Al-Arian story still intrigues a lot of people in the Bay Area.

One moviegoer, Tracy Borgatti, explained she came to see the film because “I had Dr. Al-Arian as a professor at U.S.F. and I just wanted to hear more about the story, more about what they had to say than just what we hear on the news.”

Another, Patricia Kemp, said, “I just think it would be very interesting. I’ve watched the case, I’ve read it in the papers, I’ve just been interested.”

A lot of people came to see Norwegian Director Line Halvorsen’s portrayal of the U.S.F. Professor’s trial, where Al-Arian was accused by the federal government of aiding terrorists.

“I think Tampa is important because this is where it all happened, this is where the Al-Arian family lives and this is where the trial is,” Halvorsen pointed out in an interview with the Director Wednesday night at the premiere of her film. She added it’s a true documentary – no actors, no staging – everything in the film was culled from “real life.”

“U.S.A. versus Al-Arian” exceeded the expectations for how popular it would be at the historic Tampa Theater in downtown Tampa. The 1,000 seats planners had set aside beforehand quickly sold out. Theater workers found room to add to another 200 seats and those sold out, too.

“It’s worth everything. I waited all year for this. This kind of will fill in all those questions and gaps I had,” one man said excitedly. He wouldn’t provide his name to reporters because he was a juror on Al-Arian’s case – Juror Number 32.

He was viewed by many attendees as one of the special guests at the premiere, along with the former Professor’s wife, Nahla Al-Arian.

Juror 32 said, “I’ve always wanted to meet Mrs. Al-Arian and the Al-Arian family, and I got to meet them, talk to them, and tell them what I thought.”

Meanwhile, Nahla Al-Arian, spoke to her husband’s well-being when asked.


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