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The Oath

Documentary Feature, Festival Favorites
D: Laura Poitras

Poitras' documentary takes this decade's faceless al Qaeda bogeyman and locates a pair of dramatically human stories beating within. The Oath follows Abu Jandal, Osama bin Laden's former bodyguard, who is now a cabdriver in Yemen. Poitras and her camera spend a lot of time with Jandal in his cab, mosque, and home, learning his personal history and perspective. Instead of becoming a political tract, however, this film becomes a surprisingly moving family drama as it probes Jandal's complicated guilt about the arrest, trials, and long detainment at Guantánamo of his brother-in-law Salim Hamdan, whom Jandal had introduced to both jihad and his sister. Employed as bin Laden's driver, Hamdan was arrested in Afghanistan shortly after 9/11 and taken to Guantánamo, where he remained for seven years. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in his favor in a landmark case regarding military tribunals, which only caused Congress to rewrite the laws governing them. Hamdan's story is told through his letters home.

Friday, March 19, 11am, Ritz 2

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The Oath

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