The simple framing
indicates documentarist Ashish Ghadiali knows he’s hit upon an inherently
resonant modern story: for 96 minutes, here is Moazzam Begg, sat in a mock-up
interview room, describing how a lad from Birmingham wound up in Guantanamo Bay.
Personal and political quickly interweave. Begg’s close-miked words, often
battling against the sounds of the war machine, allow us to hear the hurt he
felt in being persecuted by intelligence agencies and seeing his adopted home
of Afghanistan obliterated after 9/11. Ghadiali is careful to clarify key
points – he delicately negotiates Begg’s attempts to reclaim the term “jihad” –
while suggesting that relentless interrogation, and the suspicion powering it,
might in itself be a call to arms. For his part, Begg appears to have gained an
exceptional grasp of nuance from his time in captivity: in this post-Chilcot
moment, this principled, consistent testimony, coming as it does from deep
within Islam, assumes a rare gravity and a profound moral force. The Confession opens today in selected cinemas.