After the events of 911, many Muslims considered ‘terror threats’ were unwillingly pulled out from where they live and taken to the Guantanamo Bay. A political hell-hole, maximum security prison. Kristen Stewart’s lead character, Amy Cole, is a newly assigned solider stationed there.
Warned of the strict rules and told to not let them get in your head, her job is to oversee the detainees. Since escape is impossible, their aim is to just keep them from not dying. Reminded that this too is a war-zone, them against her, she is smitten of any emotion and throws herself in the deep end. Worn down by persistence, she befriends Ali (Peyman Mooadi), a ‘detainee’ who has been imprisoned there for eight years.
Acting much like Hannibal Lector behind bars, Peyman’s performance is moving, whilst providing needed (subtle) humour. Although there is a heavy steel security door between them for the duration of the film, the chemistry balance between Kirsten and Peyman is gripping. Kristen Stewart in fact is outstanding in the unconventional role and like you have never seen her before.
Brutally regimented, Camp X-Ray at times feels tedious, perhaps to give a sense of the time lapse, or perhaps the lack of soundtrack just exaggerates it. Either way, it is superb direction by first-time writer, director Peter Sattler. With authentic representation in mind, and no underlying political themes reflected, Camp X-Ray instead focuses on being character driven excellence.
Writer and Director of Camp X-Ray: Peter Sattler joined us after the film for a quick Q&A.
Here is what he said about tackling his first feature film:
'It’s certainly very daunting to mount your first feature. But it is s a really talented cast and I think that I was very fortunate as both of them were very similarly attracted to the script. Kristen told me she just really understood this girl and felt this need to play her. She also told me she like the role because it was a challenge, she really wanted to push herself as an actress and Peyman as well, told me that be being from Iran he did not want it to be too political. He told me that he understood situations like this to some degree, that being from Iran you have experience people get grabbed and questioned, then released and you never really know what happened. That kind of thing stuff just happens. It’s part of daily-life in Iran.'
'Working with them is intimidating for a few seconds, when you first meet Kristen and what not. But they are both actors and I had a very clear vision as to what I wanted to do with the film. So once we all started working together I found they were both such collaborative and great people that once you just start working, you just put your head down and start blasting away at it. You’re made at home very quickly, so there wasn’t a lot of time to sit around and get nervous about it, you just buckle down and bust through it.'