Sympathy and Context Amid Controversary: Guantanamo’s Child: Omar Khadr

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - February 19, 2016
Sympathy and Context Amid Controversary: Guantanamo’s Child: Omar Khadr

Were it not for the calm, the acceptance, and the optimism displayed by Canadian Omar Khadr, the controversial soul at the centre of Michael Reed and Michelle Shepherd’s new documentary, the story on whole would be most frustrating and depressing.

Chronicling the imprisonment of a then 15-year-old Khadr after he was seriously injured during a firefight with American troops in Afghanistan in 2002, Guantanamo’s Child: Omar Khadr offers depth and breadth to a headline-making story that had many jumping to their own conclusions.

Sympathizing with Khadr, who is interviewed at length, and following the hard work of his Edmonton lawyer Dennis Edney across 15 years, we are offered both an intimate look at the struggles endured by Khadr and an exploration of systemic abuse of American power fueled by fear.

That’s one perspective, which I suppose is more for those unfamiliar with the story of the Canadian boy labeled a terrorist by his own government. Or also for those who thought to give pause about a story that deals in the complications of war, the fear and uncertainty surrounding life and death, and the naiveté and innocence of a 15-year-old boy in the center of it.


While a lot is covered across 80 minutes, with interviews of soldiers involved in the firefight that left Khadr with massive wounds, and newscast and speeches from Prime Minister Harper, its Khadr’s journey that remains the focus. It’s a primer on politics of war and the infamous nature of Guantanamo, but more comprehensive in dealing with Khadr’s upbringing, offering nuance where it was largely ignored as he became the first child since World War II to be convicted at a US war crimes trial.

As heartbreaking the story, as disturbing as some of the footage – when a young Khadr is being interrogated, for instance – there is a triumphant spirit throughout. An indefatigable hero in Edney emerges, and Khadr, finally freed in Canada, looks ahead to his bright future, determined not to be ruled by his past.

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Anthony is a lover of a good story in any form, on any subject. Tirelessly navigating filmdom, he is equal parts an unbridled idealist and stubborn curmudgeon, trying to strike a balance between head and heart when it comes to pop culture. He pens stories about television, music, the environment, lifestyles, and all things noteworthy and peculiar.