Artist Projects

The Oath

Laura Poitras

The Oath is a cross-cut tale of two men propelled on divergent courses with Al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, 9/11, Guantanamo Bay Prison and the U.S. Supreme Court. Abu Jandal is a taxi driver in Sana’a, Yemen; his brother-in-law Salim Hamdan is a Guantanamo prisoner and the first man to face the controversial military tribunals. Jandal and Hamdan’s intertwined personal trajectories—how they became bin Laden’s bodyguard and driver, respectively—act as prisms that serve to explore and contextualize a world that has confounded Western media. As Hamdan’s trial progresses, his military lawyers challenge fundamental flaws in the court system. The charismatic Jandal dialogues with his young son, Muslim students and journalists, and chillingly unveils the complex evolution of his belief system post-9/11. The Oath offers a rare window into a realm too long misunderstood—and the international impact of the U.S. War on Terror.

Project Updates

  • 2011: The Oath is nominated for two Emmy Awards for its screening on PBS’s P.O.V.

  • 2011: The Oath screens at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival in London

  • 2010: The Oath wins the Gotham Award for Best Documentary

  • 2010: The Oath is released on DVD

  • 2010: The Oath premieres on PBS’s P.O.V. series

  • 2010: The Oath is one of 12 films chosen to compete for the TCM Audience Award in the Zabaltegi-Pearls section at the San Sebastian International Film Festival

  • 2010: The Oath wins best documentary film at the Edinburgh International Film Festival.

  • 2010: The Oath screens at Human Rights Film Festival in Chicago

  • 2010: The Oath wins special prize at Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival in Toronto

  • 2010: The Oath has theatrical premiere at IFC in New York

  • 2010: The Oath wins the grand jury prize for documentary feature at IFFBoston

  • 2010: The Oath receives best documentary feature award at the Sarasota Film Festival

  • 2010: The Oath is screened at the Full Frame Documentary Festival and receives Anne Dellinger Special Jury Prize

  • 2010: The Oath is screened at the 53rd San Francisco International Film Festival at Pacific Film Archive

  • 2010: The Oath is screened at the New Directors/New Films Festival presented by MoMA and Lincoln Center Film Society in NYC

  • 2010: The Oath is screened at the Minneapolis/St. Paul Film Festival

  • 2010: The Oath is acquired by Zeitgeist Films

  • 2010: The Oath is screened at SXSW in Austin, TX

  • 2010: The Oath is awarded the True Vision award from the True/False Film Festival

  • 2010: The Oath is screened at the Berlin International Film Festival

  • 2010: The Oath premieres at the 2010 Sundance Film festival and receives the Excellence in Cinematography Award: U.S. Documentary.