In an era of over-produced and over-edited documentaries—here's looking at you, Michael Moore—it's refreshing to watch a no-frills doc like You Don't Like The Truth: 4 Days Inside Guantánamo. Filmmakers Luc Côté and Patricio Henriquez don't use flashy tricks to tug heartstrings—instead they put faith in the story they're telling. And what a story it is. This look inside the harsh conditions of Guantánamo Bay chills to the bone and will cause any viewer with even half a conscience to foam at the mouth. Academy voters should pay attention to this doc, which may be too uncompromising and raw for mainstream digestion. A one week engagement at the Film Forum in New York should lead to a fair amount of publicity for a project that will find a wider audience on home-viewing platforms.
Using footage released from prison cameras, You Don't Like The Truth tells the story of Omar Khadr, a 15-year-old Canadian resident captured in Afghanistan. Khadr was accused of killing an American medic after he was thrust into the wrong place at the wrong time by his militant father. While other boys his age were out playing practical jokes and chasing girls, Khadr was at Guantánamo Bay with a hood over his head and his arms handcuffed above his shoulders. Truth uses footage obtained from Khadr's interrogation to prove he was punished like a war criminal, making him the first person in decades to be penalized for alleged crimes committed as a juvenile.
Côté and Henriquez line up plenty of experts to prove Khadr's innocence as footage of the boy struggling with his imprisonment plays alongside their commentary. It's a stirring juxtaposition as well as a wonderfully streamlined approach. Manipulation here is minimal. Schmaltzy musical cues are absent. And lesser filmmakers would have exploited footage of Khadr's mother watching a tape of him crying out for her from his cell, but Côté and Henriquez have the restraint to simply let the moment play out.
Khadr's interrogation over the course of four grueling sessions is difficult to watch. The young boy's interrogators bring him Subway or McDonald's to create false security and then try to extract information from him he doesn't have. What manipulation was absent from the film's presentation is present in the action of the captors, who are often merciless. Khadr catches on to their deceptions quickly, growing distant and restrained, but that only infuriates his already impatient jailors.
There's little doubt that Guantánamo Bay continues to be one of America's darkest moments, and our compromised values are on full display here. You Don't Like The Truth gains an unfortunate dramatic punch because Khadr is still stuck in prison.
It's essential viewing, and a movie you can't shrug off.
Distribution: Diana Holtzberg, Films Transit - US Office, email@example.com
Directors/Screenwriters/Producers: Luc Côté and Patricio Henriquez
Running time: 100 min.
Release date: September 28 NY