USA, 2010, 90 minutes
Tue, Apr 27 / 8:40 / PFA / OATH27P
Wed, Apr 28 / 9:00 / Kabuki / OATH28K
Sat, May 01 / 6:00 / Clay / OATH01Y
The Oath tells the story of two brothers-in-law once close to Osama bin Laden. Abu Jandal was his bodyguard, an Al Qaeda insider who in 1996 recruited Salim Hamdan to work as bin Laden’s driver. As the film opens, their fates have diverged: Abu Jandal drives a taxi through the dusty streets of Sana’a, Yemen’s capital, while Hamdan faces war crimes charges in Guantanamo Bay prison, at best, a tenuous connection to terrorists or terrorism. Adding a human dimension to a world usually demonized by Western media, the intimate lens of director Laura Poitras and cinematographer Kirsten Johnson captures Abu Jandal’s rapidly shifting expressions as he tells his tale, most often from behind the wheel of his taxi. Denied access to Hamdan, the filmmakers simulataneously make up for and underscore his absence through letters written from his isolation cell, narrated by Moustafa Ali and accompanied by stark, strange and artificial exterior shots of Guantanamo. Calmly but potently blending original footage, media clips and surveillance tapes, including excerpts from Hamdan’s chilling interrogation video, the film offers a complex, subtle and surprising reflection on the intertwined narratives of Abu Jandal’s daily life and Hamdan’s military trial. As the charismatic Abu Jandal raises his son and discusses with young men his evolving ideas of jihad, Hamdan’s military lawyers challenge the fundamental injustice of his detention and trial. It’s in the reverberations across and between these two stories that the film unfolds a forceful indictment of the “war on terror.”
Presented in association with The Center for Justice and Accountability.