"The Oath" (2010 release; 90 min.) is a documentary that was bound to create debate, if not controversy, upon its release in the US in 2010 (it premiered at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival), right? Actually, this fell pretty much on deaf ears and it was only when recently browsing the documentary section of my local library that I fell upon this. How could I have never heard of this movie before?
"The Oath" follows two men, Abu Jandal, a taxi driver in Yemen, and his brother-in-law Salim Hamdan, a Guantanamo Bay prisoner who is the first to await trial. As we later learn, Jandal was the primary bodyguard of Osama Bin Laden during 1996-2000, and Hamdan was Bin Laden's driver. They became brothers-in-law when Bin Laden 'selected' two sisters to marry them. But there is one huge difference between the two: Jandalhas taken the Al Qaueda oath and Hamdan has not. The documentary takes its time in building up the intrecate facts surrounding these two men. At one point I was about to turn it off when I heard Jandal give again one of his views, this time on tolerance ("When you accept the other as he is, then you are in agreement with his infidelity and lowliness"), but I decided to stick it ou and I'm glad I did. I'm not going to tell you why, as it would ruin your viewing experience, although I will venture to say that you will be surprised how it all turns out. The last 30 min. are just riveting.
Back to why this documentary has fallen on deaf ears: it's my personal belief that the US audience at large was not then, and is still not, in the mood for this type of compex and complicated tale of two truths. Take for example Guantanamo Bay, which plays a pivotal role in the documentary: it has been controversial for many years but despite Obama's pledge in the 2008 presidential campaign to close it, it remains open to this very day... This is not an easy documentary (and one can take that literally as well, as the manner in which the subtitles are presented make them pretty hard to read), but in the end, I would recommend this to anyone interested in learning about the complex post-9/11 challenges presented to the US and the world at large.