A slow but steady burner of a documentary that gently hooks you in and keeps you captivated for it’s 90-odd minute running time. A rare insight into the operations of one of the most secretive and but discussed organisations in the world, al Qaeda.
The central subject of the doco is Abu Jandal, a body guard for Osama bin Laden for 3 years who has partly turned his back on the group, the result of which is that he is a complex and conflicted man. To many, Jandal has betrayed his oath to the organisation. He lives perilous life as an outcast, struggling to support his son by driving taxis in Yemen, while mentoring a group of young men.
An interconnected line of inquiry follows the plight of his brother, imprisoned in guantanamo for 7 years and at the centre of the historical Hamdan v Rumsfeld case. Director and producer Laura Poitras has achieved a remarkable feat with an illuminating documentary which blows some of the clouds away from a very murky subject.
Beautifully shot and full of complex ambiguity, The Oath is highly worth a viewing and an interesting companion peice to Four Lionsalso showing this year.
Hello dear friend,
The greatest time of the year for local cinephiles is approaching: The Melbourne International Film Festival. For about 18 days, across 4 sites and about 8 cinemas the MIFF manages to pack a lot films in; most of which never receive a general or arthouse cinematic release (despite deserving to).
The elves over at the MIFF workshop announced the ‘first bite’ of films last week; you download the brochure here. What do you think looks great? For me, the documentary program always stands out.
Videocracy: Seems to explore the Eurotrash side to Italy, and also the immense power TV wields over there (as evinced in the long running success of that most vile and disappointing of humans, prime minister Berlusconi).
I’ve often been fascinated by, and felt deeply sorry for, the people who live amongst garbage villages. A new documentary, Wasteland , winner of the doco audience award at Sundance, explores this phenonomen of extreme adaptation: but it does so with a very artistic and self-aware twist. Looks like it’ll make me cry. I like weeping in the cinema, but I try to finish it before the lights come up, which is not always easy.
That’s it for now, do let me know if there is anything you think is a must see. I’ll be taking submissions during this period as well; if any one feels moved (positively or negatively) to get something across to the AFR’s 3 readers send it my way!
2010 Melbourne International Film Festival descends on Melbourne in about two months. Too soon to get excited?
They’re currently looking for volunteers (perks include a 13 film mini-pass, closing night party, drugs) and looking to fill various paid positions…I’m tempted to go for assistant ticketing manager, but I think i’d rather just see the films. And dealing with irate men in berets is not my cup of Joe.
No word on who the new artistic director will be to replace departing Richard Moore (who admirably weathered quite a storm of controversy last year). Moore will still be heading the festival in 2010.