LAURA POITRAS: My name’s Laura Poitras.
The Oath is the second part of a trilogy that I’m working on about US post-9/11 issues.
The type of storytelling I do is that I try to look at big themes, but see how they get embodied by individuals. So the first film I made in the trilogy is about the war in Iraq, so I followed an Iraqi doctor living in Baghdad. And with this film I wanted to make a film about Guantanamo, so I went to Yemen, because Yemen has the largest population of prisoners at Guantanamo. I went there looking for a returnee story–somebody being released from Guantanamo and coming home. And then the second day in Yemen I was introduced to a man who was a taxi driver. And he also happened to–in his past he worked for Bin Laden as a bodyguard. And the whole story changed at that point.
I think the big themes that I’m interested in in The Oath—it gives you a lot of information about the war on terror. I mean, how is it that Bin Laden’s former bodyguard is driving a taxicab in Yemen, and people who’ve been cleared for release are still being held captive at Guantanamo? That just seems absurd. It’s a film that also talks about interrogation in really important ways. And it raises big questions about Guantanamo, and the very flawed Military Commission process that’s gone on there. And so all those things kind of are combined in that. So I would say that it’s a film that looks at the mistakes that we’re engaging in in the war on terror.