The War on Terror has thrown up many controversies, from the use of drone attacks to the killing of innocent civilians, but nothing has caused as much consternation as the Guantánamo Bay detention centre. Based on an American naval base in Cuba, the centre is considered to be outside of US law, allowing detainees to be subject to abuse which contravenes the Geneva Convention. Set in this compound, Peter Sattle’s debut Camp X-Ray is one of the only fictional films to have broached this subject.
Private Cole (Kristen Stewart) is assigned as a guard in Camp Delta. Whilst she is personally troubled by the conditions within Guantánamo Bay, she’s equally as disdainful of the detainees. Cole attracts the attention of a German detainee Ali (Peyman Moaadi) who seems determined to engage her in conversation whether she likes it or not. However, over the period of several months she starts to become friendly with him, much to the annoyance of some of her colleagues.
Camp X-Ray is a brave debut outing from Sattle as it’s not a subject which is likely to endear him to an American audience. There’s an impressive central performance from Kristen Stewart, who is slowly but surely shaking off the taint of Twilight, and good acting all round. It must be said, Camp X-Ray certainly has a point to make, and in making its case sometimes relinquishes entertainment value and slows the pace right down. Still, it’s a strong drama with the right intentions.
Camp X-Ray is released on DVD and VoD by Koch Media on Monday.