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- Year: 2010
- Film Format: 35mm
- Origin: USA
- Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
- Runtime: 96 mins
- Language: English and Arabic
- Subtitles: English
From the director of Citizenfour and the Oscar-nominated My Country, My Country, The Oath is a spectacularly gripping documentary that unspools like a great political thriller. It’s the crosscut 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.
WINNER - SPECIAL JURY PRIZE - INTERNATIONAL FEATURE - HOTDOCS 2010
WINNER - DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION - 2010 SARASOTA FILM FESTIVAL
WINNER - EXCELLENCE IN CINEMATOGRAPHY AWARD - U.S. DOCUMENTARY - 2010 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL
WINNER - SPECIAL JURY AWARD - 2010 FULL FRAME DOCUMENTARY FILM FESTIVAL
WINNER - GRAND JURY PRIZE - BEST DOCUMENTARY - 2010 INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL BOSTON
Laura Poitras was nominated for an Academy Award, an Independent Spirit Award, and an Emmy Award for MY COUNTRY, MY COUNTRY (2006), a documentary about the U.S. occupation of Iraq. MY COUNTRY, MY COUNTRY was co-produced with ITVS, released theatrically by Zeitgeist Films, and broadcast on P.O.V./PBS.
She received a Peabody Award and was nominated for an Emmy and an Independent Spirit Award for FLAG WARS (2003; made with Linda Goode Bryant), a documentary about gentrification that premiered at the SXSW Film Festival and won the award for Best Documentary.
Following MY COUNTRY, MY COUNTRY, THE OATH is Poitras' second documentary in a trilogy titled THE NEW AMERICAN CENTURY about America post 9/11. The final film will focus on the 9/11 trials.
Poitras is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a Media Arts Fellowship from the Rockefeller Foundation/Tribeca Film Institute. She has attended the Sundance Institute's Documentary Storytelling and Edit Lab as both a Fellow and creative advisor. Her work has received support from the Independent Television Service (ITVS), P.O.V./American Documentary, Creative Capital, Sundance Documentary Film Program, Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund, the Vital Projects Fund, NYSCA, Jerome Foundation, Chicken and Egg Pictures, and others.
She is currently working on THE GUANTANAMO PROJECT, a multi-media project to collect documents and artifacts from Guantanamo Bay Prison. Before making documentaries, she worked as a professional chef. She lives in New York City.
Her newest film, the third part of her "9/11 Trilogy," which started with MY COUNTRY, MY COUNTRY and THE OATH, is CITIZENFOUR.
Editor / Co-Producer JONATHAN OPPENHEIM
Co-Producers NASSER ARRABYEE, ALIZA KAPLAN
Cinematography KIRSTEN JOHNSON, LAURA POITRAS
Composer OSVALDO GOLIJOV
Soprano DAWN UPSHAW
Executive Producers SALLY JO FIFER, DAVID MENSCHEL
Produced by PRAXIS FILMS &
THE INDEPENDENT TELEVISION SERVICE (ITVS)
In association with AMERICAN DOCUMENTARY | POV
Additional funding provided by:
The Sundance Documentary Film Program, Creative Capital, Guggenheim Fellowship,
Tribeca Institute Media Arts Fellowship funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund, CBC, NYSCA, Chicken & Egg Pictures, and Vital Projects Fund
“FASCINATING! Poitras’s movie digs deep; it hints at the violently conflicting drives that an intelligent human being may be liable to.” – David Denby, THE NEW YORKER
“The most revelatory and essential documentary of 2010!” – David Edelstein, NEW YORK magazine
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