Camp X-Ray (film)
Theatrical film poster
|Directed by||Peter Sattler|
|Written by||Peter Sattler|
|Music by||Jess Stroup|
|Edited by||Geraud Brisson|
Rough House Pictures
The Young Gang
|Distributed by||IFC Films|
Camp X-Ray is a 2014 American independent drama film based on the detention facility Camp X-Ray at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp. The film is the directorial debut of Peter Sattler who also wrote the screenplay. It stars Kristen Stewart and Peyman Moaadi with John Carroll Lynch, Lane Garrison, and Joseph Julian Soria in supporting roles. The film premiered on January 17, 2014 at 2014 Sundance Film Festival in the U.S. dramatic competition category and released on October 17, 2014 by IFC Films.
Army private first class Amy Cole (Kristen Stewart) is placed as a guard at Guantanamo Bay detention camp, specifically Camp Delta. Her convictions become less certain after she strikes up a tenuous friendship with one of the detainees.
- Kristen Stewart as PFC Amy Cole
- Peyman Moaadi as Ali Amir (credited as Payman Maadi) 
- Julia Duffy as Betty Cole
- John Carroll Lynch as COL James Drummond
- Lane Garrison as CPL "Randy" Ransdell
- Joseph Julian Soria as PFC Rico Cruz
- Tara Holt as PFC Mary Winters
- Ser'Darius Blain as PFC Raymond Jackson
- Cory Michael Smith as PFC Bergen
- Mark Naji as Detainee #1
- Anoop Simon as Detainee #2
- Robert Tarpinian as Detainee #3
- Yousuf Azami as Ehan
- Marco Khan as Mahmoud
- Kyle Bornheimer as Night Shift C.O.
- Nawal Bengholam as Newscaster
- LaDell Preston as IRF #1
- Daniel Leavitt as IRF #2
On February 6, 2014, IFC Films announced their acquisition of the North American rights to the film. Shooting Stars LLC acquired the rights to distribute the film in the United Arab Emirates. EDGE Entertainment will distribute Camp X-Ray in Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden. The film was distributed in Lebanon and Iraq with an October 30, 2014 release date.
Production for Camp X-Ray took place in Los Angeles and Whittier, California. Principal photography began on July 17, 2013 and ended in mid-August. The location used for filming the prison scenes was the abandoned Fred C. Nelles Youth Correctional Facility in Whittier, California.
Promotion and marketing
The film moved to post-production in late summer 2013. The special effects were edited by Comen VFX. On December 5, 2013, it was announced that the film would premiere on January 17 at the Sundance Film Festival in the US Dramatic Competition category. On July 3, 2014, ten new stills from the film were released. IFC Films released the official trailer on August 8, 2014 on its YouTube channel.
Camp X-Ray is rated R by the MPAA for language and brief nude images. The film became available in select theaters and through video on demand services including iTunes Movies and Amazon.com Video starting October 17, 2014. The film was also a selection for the Atlantic Film Festival, Deauville American Film Festival, BFI London Film Festival, Abu Dhabi Film Festival, Leiden International Film Festival, Hof International Film Festival, and the Stockholm International Film Festival.
Camp X-Ray premiered with a special screening on October 6, 2014 in New York City.
Camp X-Ray premiered at Sundance Film Festival with generally positive reviews, with specific praise of Stewart and Moaadi's performances. The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes indicates that 72% of 54 film critics gave the film a positive review, with an average rating 6.3 out of 10. The critics consensus states: "Camp X-Ray's treatment of its subject verges on the shallow, but benefits greatly from a pair of impressive performances from Kristen Stewart and Peyman Moaadi."
David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter gave a positive review to the film, calling it "A somber but cogent drama that uses its setting as a provocative backdrop rather than a debate point" and praising the lead actors by saying that "Stewart, delivering perhaps her best screen work to date as an inexperienced military guard, against an equally compelling characterization from Maadi as the long-term detainee who pierces her shell." Marlow Stern of The Daily Beast wrote, "by the end of Camp X-Ray, you're won over by Stewart's layered turn as Cole, and Maadi's as the defiant Ali. It's a role perfectly suited to her strengths—vulnerability and hidden courage—and few young actresses, with the exception of Jennifer Lawrence, can hold a close-up like Stewart." Rob Nelson in his review of the film for Variety said that "Camp X-Ray is most commendable for believably depicting the U.S. military from a female's point of view" and that "The two leads (Stewart and Maadi) are excellent and play off each other deftly." Scott Mendelson of Forbes wrote, "Kristen Stewart is engaging and Peyman Moaadi avoids the “noble savage” cliché with ease. The performances are stronger than the film which contains them, but since the picture is mostly a two-hander that’s not entirely a fatal flaw." Matt Zoller Seitz of RogerEbert.com gave the film three stars and praised Peter Sattler's direction, as well as Stewart and Maadi. Seitz wrote of Stewart that: "There are silent film-quality close-ups where you can read every fluctuation in her mood even though she’s barely moving a muscle. This is a true movie star performance." Seitz remarked that, "The relationship between Amy, a strong-silent type, and Ali, a chatterbox provocateur, has a ‘70s-movie feel."
Xan Brooks of The Guardian gave the film two out of five stars, echoing praise for the acting, saying "Moaadi (so good as the shifty dad in the A Separation) is suitably anguished as Ali, while Stewart copes well as his pensive prison guard, constantly trying to act more tough than she is. It's a role that reminds us what a fine performer she was in the likes of Into the Wild and Adventureland", but criticized the film in general, saying "the supporting players are little more than equal opportunity stereotypes (frothing Islamists; brutish grunts), while the dialogue is a clatter of cookie-cutter exposition, intent on telling us everything but explaining very little". Eric Kohn of Indiewire criticized the screenplay and direction by saying that "Sattler's frustratingly on-the-nose screenplay" and "It's a powerful assertion about the prospects of being trapped by misguided intentions, which sadly applies to Camp X-Ray itself" but ultimately praised Stewart's performance. Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly gave the film a negative review by saying that "it’s also a flatly made movie" and said that Stewart was miscast in the role as "she has no toughness, no moxie, no callouses on her hide."
Writer/Director Peter Sattler earned a nomination for a Humanitas Prize in the Sundance category. Casting director Richard Hicks earned an Artios Awards nomination for Outstanding Achievement in Casting - Low Budget Feature - Drama. The Women Film Critics Circle also nominated Kristen Stewart for Best Actress and the film for "Best Movie about Women."
The film opened on October 17, showing in one theater in New York City. The film grossed $1,316. The film expanded to three screens in its second week and posted an increase of 134% of $3,480. As of November 9, the film has grossed $9,837 The film also debuted on video on demand and rose to #12 in overall releases on iTunes. "Camp X-Ray" grossed $50,744 in the United Arab Emirates.
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- Marlow Stern (2014-01-18). "'Camp X-Ray,' A Kristen Stewart-Starring Guantanamo Bay Film, Premieres at Sundance". Daily Beast. Archived from the original on 2014-01-18. Retrieved 2014-01-19.
But, by the end of Camp X-Ray, you’re won over by Stewart’s layered turn as Cole, and Maadi’s as the defiant Ali. It’s a role perfectly suited to her strengths—vulnerability and hidden courage—and few young actresses, with the exception of Jennifer Lawrence, can hold a close-up like Stewart.
- Jessica Herndon (2014-01-18). "Sundance premiere 'Camp X-Ray' uncovers prison life at Guantanamo Bay". Ottawa Citizen. Archived from the original on 2014-01-19. Retrieved 2014-01-19.
Sattler originally intended Stewart's role for a male, but he shifted to a female lead because he felt it created more conflict between (Amy and Ali. "And Muslims' extremist relationship toward women also complicated (the story)," he said. "So I clicked into that."
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- Scott Mendelson (11 September 2014). "Review: Kristen Stewart Shines In 'Camp X-Ray'". Forbes. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
- Matt Zoller Seitz (17 October 2014). "Camp X-Ray". Retrieved 2 December 2014.
- "Camp X-Ray: Sundance 2014 - first look review". The Guardian. 19 January 2014. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
- "Sundance Review: Kristen Stewart Is Admirably Serious But Can't Salvage Mopey Gitmo Drama 'Camp X-Ray'". Indiewire. 18 January 2014. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
- "Sundance 2014: Kristen Stewart as a Guantanamo guard? I didn't buy it". Entertainment Weekly. 19 January 2014. Retrieved 18 January 2014.