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On Your Radar: Film Review Camp X-Ray
by Karen Pecota

Written and Directed by filmmaker Peter Sattler

“It's not a political film. It's a deeply human one.” These are the words from filmmaker Peter Sattler describing his latest Independent feature film Camp X-Ray.

Sattler is asked why he chooses to set the film at Guantanamo Bay (also referred to as Gitmo). He explains, "The movie isn't about Guantanamo as much as it is about the people who have to be there." Then adds, "The setting of Gitmo serves as the pressure cooker that amplifies and complicates a very personal relationship between two strangers who are forced to find a way to live together."

Inspired by documentary film footage of a scene with a prison guard and a detainee arguing about the different books on the library cart, Sattler visualizes a film in its entirety. One hallway. Two people. An absurd forced relationship.

Using his imagination, Sattler develops an unforgettable and deeply moving narrative about the longing for human connection; set within the confines of a temporary U.S military detention facility after 9/11 known as Camp X-Ray. A military prison located within Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. Fronting Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. Sattler's focus is on the survival-of-the-fittest nature of the human will.

While the U.S. Government struggles to sort through case trials and legal status of the detainees at Camp X-Ray, the process undergoes significant controversy. Sattler uses the tension from within the camp to address reasons a human connection impacts the choices one makes to either nurture the human soul or not. With friend or foe.

Sattler notes that his main characters Ali and Cole are strangers and represent opposite sides of war. He says, "Their connection plays out that intrinsic eternal dance of raising and lowering your defenses when you meet a stranger. The primal flight or fight instinct one has when meeting and dealing with strangers."

Amy Cole (Kristen Stewart), a young woman from rural America. Intelligent and full of optimism to be apart of something grand. Bigger than herself. Cole joins the American military. To be and see all that she can while rising to new heights partnering with America's Uncle Sam.

Cole's first tour of duty is to be a rookie guard at one of the temporary detention facilities in  Guantanamo Bay's Naval Base known as Camp X-Ray. Named not for technically looking deep into the human corpse but calculated sequentially from the beginning and then from the end of the NATO phonetic alphabet.

Far from home. First assignment. A young beautiful woman. Surrounded by aggressive male colleagues and hostile jihadist detainees. Cole struggles with more than her duties as a  professional soldier. She is morally conflicted day-in and day-out with questionable treatment of human life. She's lonely. She longs for caring human connection. To see it. To feel it.

Cole must attend to an aggressively vocal detainee, Ali Amir (Payman Maadi) on one of her rounds as a hallway guard. Cole is scared. Amir is angry. A fierce encounter between the two fuels an uncanny attraction. Something clicks. An unusual connection binds their soul that shakes their worlds forever.