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TIFF Review: Guantanamo’s Child: Omar Khadr


A 15 year old Omar Khadr gets captured by American troops in Afghanistan and it is not until 13 years later that he is released into the custody of his lawyer.

Dealing with the issue of child soldiers is nothing new for filmmaker Patrick Reed who previously madeFight Like Soldiers Die Like Children (2012); this time around he co-directs with Toronto Starinvestigative journalist Michelle Shephard an exploration into events and circumstances surrounding a Canadian teenager joining the Taliban cause in Afghanistan and the subsequent physical and mental torture inflicted upon him while incarcerated by the American military.

The slick presentation is not surprising as legendary CBC documentary producer Mark Starowicz was involved in making Guantanamo’s Child which proclaims to tell the story of Omar Khadr in his own words.   For some the controversial figure is a terrorist and to others a misguided youth; he is certainly given plenty of airtime along with his family, his crusading lawyer, and members of the U.S. military.  Family videos are shown as well as footage of Khadr constructing bombs and being interrogated.

What has a mixed affect is the calm demeanour of Khadr who can be viewed as being smug or admirable.  Whether naivety or the influence of his father can serve as justifiable defence for his actions is debatable.  But also questionable is the manner of intelligence gathering by the Americans who talk about protecting democracy while at the same time engaging in torture.  The war on terrorism comes across as one zealot trying to defeat another with civilians getting caught in the crossfire of bullets and ideology.

3 out of 5

Trevor Hogg is a freelance video editor and writer who currently resides in Canada; he can be found at LinkedIn.


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