The Confession




A testimony of extraordinary interest on several levels (even if not cinematic).


Confession, The

Moazzam Begg


This is not really a film at all. At least, not in the true sense of the term, as the words heard are of prime importance, while the visuals, competently selected, matter hardly at all. There is certainly nothing whatever that calls out for a big screen in order to register fully, but these limitations are not in the least important. In effect The Confession: Living the War on Terror (to use the longer form of its title) is a work of autobiography notwithstanding that it is presented in interview form. The subject of this piece directed by Ashish Ghadiali is Moazzam Begg and, regardless of occasional contributions from others, including the man's father who is very supportive, Begg is here to tell his own story.


Begg is a British Pakistani born in Birmingham in 1968. Following extrajudicial detention he spent close on five years in Bagram and Guantanamo Bay and was among those subjected to abuse by guards. That's the kind of true tale already told in Alex Gibney's impressive documentary of 2007 Taxi to the Dark Side to which Begg contributed. However, his personal story deserves this wider platform since it is fascinating on so many levels. As a Muslim inspired by the example of the mujahideen, Begg, who had observed at first hand the sufferings of those living in the Middle East, came to endorse jihad but at the same time to deplore as a falsification of Islam those who as terrorists are ready to kill women and children in the name of their faith.


Some may feel that Begg's outlook including his involvement with a bookstore in Birmingham offering books on jihad fully justifies the attention he aroused from the authorities, an interest that has more than once led to his arrest. Even if the interviewer here sometimes challenges what Begg says this film effectively lets him tell things his way. Consequently, some will see him as an honourable man who stands by what he believes however controversial while others, despite the fact that he has never been charged with any crime, will be sceptical. But when he declares that he loves this country one can certainly believe him and, in whatever light you regard him, what he reveals about British involvement in extrajudicial detention and abuse and about confessions made only under pressure needs to be known. The Confession looks at recent history from a personal perspective but, ultimately, it joins hands with that other recent documentary The Killing$ of Tony Blair in putting the blame on the West for creating a situation in Iraq that would lead step by step to Isis and to where we are today. Accept that or not, it is an attitude that we should not ignore.                  




Featuring Moazzam Begg. 


Dir Ashish Ghadiali, Pro James Rogan, Ph Keidrych Wasley, Ed Nsé Asuquo and Simon Barker, Music Nitin Sawhney. 

BFI/BBC Storyville/Shoebox Films/Creative England/a Rogan Productions production-Dogwoof.
97 mins. UK. 2016. Rel: 12 August 2016. Cert. 15