Synopsis of Film
Omar Khadr: child soldier or unrepentant terrorist? The 28-year-old Canadian has been a polarizing figure since he was 15. In 2002, Khadr was captured by Americans in Afghanistan and charged with war crimes. In October 2010, Khadr pleaded guilty to five war crimes, including “murder in violation of the laws of war,” in return for a plea deal that gave him an eight-year sentence and chance to return to Canada. Khadr later recanted his confession.
His Guantanamo conviction is being appealed in the U.S courts. After spending nearly half his life behind bars, including a decade at Guantanamo, Khadr is suddenly released. Guantanamo’s Child: Omar Khadr features unprecedented access and exclusive interviews with Khadr during his first few days of freedom in Edmonton, where he was released on bail on May 7, 2015.
This documentary delivers an intimate portrait of how a teenager from a Toronto suburb became the center of one of the first U.S. war crimes trial since the prosecution of Nazi commanders in the 1940s. Khadr is the only juvenile ever tried for war crimes. Guantanamo’s Child gives Omar Khadr the opportunity to speak for himself on camera, for the first time.
Based in part on Michelle Shephard’s authoritative book Guantanamo’s Child: The Untold Story of Omar Khadr, the documentary takes us from his childhood traveling between a Canadian suburb and Peshawar at the height of the jihad against the Soviets, to Afghanistan and the homes of Al Qaeda’s elite, into the notorious U.S. prisons at Bagram and Guantanamo Bay and back again to Canada. Finally, his story, in his own words.
Patrick and Michelle Bios
Over the past decade, Patrick Reed has collaborated on several award-winning documentaries for White Pine Pictures. These films have appeared at the most prestigious festivals, been broadcast around the world, honoured with awards and theatrically released. One of Reed’s first assignments with White Pine was researching and co-producing the multi-award-winning Shake Hands With The Devil: The Journey of Roméo Dallaire. In 2007, Reed produced a ratings winner for CBC’s flagship documentary strand, Tar Sands: The Selling of Canada. He followed this up with Pets on Prozac, casting a suspicious eye on the growing phenomenon of pet pharmaceuticals. Reed’s film Triage followed Dr. James Orbinski back to Somalia and Rwanda where he was at the centre of far too many life and death decisions during those country’s years of upheaval. Triage had its world premiere at the 2007 International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA), where it was voted an audience favourite; and screened at the Sundance Film Festival 2008, and HotDocs, winning a number of international awards.
Reed also directed Tsepong: A Clinic Called Hope, a cinema vérité chronicle of the work of doctors and nurses fighting the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Lesotho, Africa. Tsepong received multiple 2007 Gemini Award nominations, and screened internationally at numerous festivals. Reed’s feature documentary, The Team – following the making of a soap opera in Kenya designed to bridge ethnic divides – had its world premiere at IDFA in 2010. The film screened at Human Rights Watch Festivals in London and New York, Full Frame, HotDocs and Silverdocs. Reed recently completed another documentary feature with White Pine Pictures about General Romeo Dallaire and child soldiers, Fight Like Soldiers, Die Like Children, shot in South Sudan, Rwanda and the DR Congo.
Michelle Shephard has spent more than a decade as the Toronto Star’s National Security reporter, traveling around the world, from the streets of Mogadishu, and Sanaa, to the mountains of Waziristan, through the corridors of power and making more than two dozen trips to the world’s most famous jail in Guantanamo Bay. Shephard has won Canada’s top journalism’s prizes – a three-time recipient of the National Newspaper Award and part of a team that received the Governor General’s Michener Award for Public Service Journalism.
She is the author of Guantanamo’s Child: The Untold Story of Omar Khadr (2008) and Decade of Fear: Reporting from Terrorism’s Grey Zone (2011) and is widely published elsewhere including The New Yorker, Foreign Policy Magazine, The Guardian and The New Republic.
Shephard has collaborated on various documentaries including her role an associate producer on the Oscar-nominated and Peabody Award winning documentary Under Fire: Journalists in Combat and produced the National Film Board’s documentary Uyghurs: Prisoners of the Absurd, which premiered at Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) in November 2014, along with other international festivals. Shephard is on the Board of Directors of the Canadian Journalism Forum on Violence and Trauma and speaks often on issues of national security and civil rights. She is the 2015/2016 recipient of the Atkinson Fellowship and will spend a year investigating the Islamic State and “Generation 9/11.”