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The Oath


Images courtesy of Zeitgeist Films.
The Oath
Laura Poitras, 2010
July 23, 2010–Aug 5, 2010
"Astonishing and essential! Both intimate and epic, mysterious and cleareyed… Poitras draws a complex, novelistic portrait of two men whose intertwined destinies tell us more about this conflict than most newspaper articles ever could."–Filmmaker Magazine

"Laura Poitras is among the top documentarians anywhere… more non-fiction films should be as beautifully photographed."-IndieWire

From the director of the Oscar-nominated My Country, My Country and the Columbus-based Flag Wars, The Oath is a spectacularly gripping documentary that unspools like a great political thriller. It's the cross-cut tale of two men whose fateful meeting propelled them on divergent courses with Al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, 9/11, Guantanamo Bay Prison and the U.S. Supreme Court.

Abu Jandal is a taxi driver in Sana'a, Yemen; his brother-in-law Salim Hamdan is a Guantanamo prisoner and the first man to face the controversial military tribunals. Jandal and Hamdan's intertwined personal trajectories—how they became bin Laden’s bodyguard and driver respectively—act as prisms that serve to explore and contextualize a world which has confounded Western media. As Hamdan's trial progresses, his military lawyers challenge fundamental flaws in the court system. The charismatic Jandal dialogues with his young son, Muslim students and journalists, and chillingly unveils the complex evolution of his belief system post-9/11. Winner of Best Documentary Cinematography at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, The Oath offers a rare window into a hidden realm—and the international impact of the U.S. War on Terror. (96 mins., 35mm)