The Oath

The Oath is a story about family, taxis, al Qaeda, Guantanamo Bay, and the U.S. Supreme Court.

Oath 01
POV, Global Voices
Premiere Date
September 21, 2010
90 minutes
Funding Initiative
Open Call
  • Award laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    2010 Sundance Film Festival-Official Selection
  • Award laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    2010 Sundance Film Festival-Excellence in Cinematography Award for Kirsten Johnson and Laura Poitras
  • Award laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    2010 International Documentary Association (IDA)-IDA Humanitas Award
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    2011 News and Documentary Emmy Awards-Outstanding Investigative Journalism
  • Nominated laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    2011 News and Documentary Emmy Awards-Best Documentary
  • Poitras laura filmmaker bio

    Laura Poitras

    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. 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’s 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. 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.

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    The Film

    The Oath is the story of Abu Jandal, Osama bin Laden’s former bodyguard, and Salim Hamdan, a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay Prison and the first man to face the controversial military tribunals. Filmed in Yemen and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, The Oath is a family drama about two men whose fateful encounter in 1996 set them on a journey that would lead to Osama bin Laden, 9/11, Guantanamo Bay Prison, and the U.S. Supreme Court. The film begins as Salim Hamdan is set to face war crime charges at Guantanamo, and Abu Jandal is a free man and drives a taxi in Yemen.

    We enter the story in a taxicab in Yemen. Here we meet Abu Jandal, the film’s central protagonist, as he transports passengers through the chaotic streets of Yemen’s capital city, Sana’a. Salim Hamdan is the film’s “ghost” protagonist. He was arrested in Afghanistan shortly after 9/11 and taken to Guantanamo. His seven-year captivity at Guantanamo is narrated through his prison letters.