Matthew Bunkell, Picturehouse Customer Service, introduces this week’s Discover Tuesdays title The Confession.
Director: Ashish Ghadiali. UK 2016. 90mins.
If you’re wondering about the repetitive clack and whistling noise, that would be Dogwoof knocking it out of the park yet again. Over the past two years and then some, Dogwoof have released a plethora of documentary features on topics ranging from the subversive art of Robert Mapplethorpe to the cosy armchair discussions of Hitchcock/Truffaut, and most recently the sublime Weiner. The Confession, the debut documentary feature by Ashish Ghadiali, continues this slew of gripping releases from one of the most exciting documentary distributors active today.
Moazzam Begg, a British Muslim raised in Birmingham, underwent his formative years in the turbulent early ‘90s. Caught in the crossfire of the us-and-them mentality that surrounded him as neo-Nazi factions plagued the working-class Midlands, Begg fought for some semblance of identity, caught between his devotion to his religion and his love for the country he grew up in.
In 2001 Begg travelled into the heart of the Bosnian conflict to aid his fellow Muslims who had been brutalised by the army of the Republika Srpska. During this time Begg became fascinated by the notion of jihad as a just means to protect those at risk. This choice sent him down a dangerous path, leading ultimately to his wrongful incarceration as one of nine Britons at Guantánamo, where he and other inmates endured hideous and unforgivable abuse.
The Confession plays out much as the title would lead you to expect. Through a series of interviews Begg explains his alienation, both at home in the UK and during his voyage to the Middle East. Ghadiali presents this eye-opening account from Begg’s point of view. Begg attempts to develop an informed opinion on the basis of his own experiences, circumventing what he sees as the incomprehension and bias of the media. All this rolls along at a steady pace, Begg recounting his travels to the Middle East to “live under” but “not join” the Taliban. However, it would appear that his trials did not end with his release from Guantánamo. Stirring music adds to the emotion of Begg’s tale, only to be cut short by Ghadiali’s interjections, questioning every statement made and every contradiction brought to the forefront. The film’s perspective, its line of questioning and even the camera are unforgiving, and every one of Begg’s twitches and idiosyncrasies tell his story where his words cannot.
The Confession is a wonderfully considered and even-handed affair. Dogwoof once again presents a compelling and thought-provoking film, centring on very human individual accounts of much larger topics.
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