Strip Search (2004 film)

Strip Search is a drama film made for the HBO network, first aired on April 27, 2004.[2][3] The film explores the status of individual liberties in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks and the approval of the USA PATRIOT Act. The film was directed by Sidney Lumet and written by Oz creator Tom Fontana. It stars Glenn Close, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Ken Leung, Bruno Lastra and Dean Winters. The film was first screened at the Monaco Film Premiere with Lumet in person presenting it, in the presence of Fontana.

Strip Search
Written byTom Fontana
Directed bySidney Lumet
StarringGlenn Close
Maggie Gyllenhaal
Ken Leung
Bruno Lastra
Dean Winters
Austin Pendleton
Theme music composerPaul Chihara
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
Producer(s)Mark A. Baker
Irene Burns
CinematographyRon Fortunato
Editor(s)Tom Swartwout
Running time56 minutes [1]
Original networkHBO
Original release
  • April 27, 2004 (2004-04-27)

Different cuts of the film exist. There is supposedly a 2-hour version. German TV showed an 86-minute version. The version released on DVD in the U.S. is 56 minutes. [4]


The film is built around two main parallel stories, each containing almost identical dialogues. One story line involves Linda Sykes (Gyllenhaal), an American woman detained in the People's Republic of China, being interrogated by a military officer (Leung). In the other storyline, Sharif Bin Said (Lastra), an Arab man detained in New York City, is interrogated by two FBI agents (Winters and Close). Both characters are graduate students detained with no hard evidence and interrogated about unspecified activities which may or may not be related to terrorist plots.

In the course of the increasingly brutal interrogations, both Sykes and Bin Said are strip searched against their will by their interrogators and are subjected to a cavity search. In both cases the protagonists appear to have only tenuous connections with the suspected terrorist plots.

The film ends with the question: "Must security and safety come at the price of freedom?"



  1. "Strip Search DVD on". Retrieved 16 March 2015.
  2. Stanley, Alessandra (April 27, 2004). "TELEVISION REVIEW; When the Nation Is at Risk, Did You Say Civil Rights?". The New York Times. Retrieved October 19, 2018.
  3. Gaydos, Steven (May 16, 2003). "HBO London adds Lumet, Martel pix". Variety. Retrieved October 19, 2018.
  4. Strip Search (TV Movie 2004) - IMDb, retrieved 2019-09-26
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