Unlikely friendship explores humanity in Gitmo film 'Camp X-Ray'

Fri Jan 17, 2014 11:06pm EST
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By Piya Sinha-Roy

PARK CITY, Utah (Reuters) - Guantanamo Bay may be a hot button topic in the political field, but new film "Camp X-Ray" provides an intimate look at the lives of the military and the detainees, and actress Kristen Stewart explores an unconventional friendship in her latest role.

In "Camp X-Ray," which premiered on Friday at the Sundance Film Festival and is a contender in the festival's U.S. drama competition, Stewart plays young military officer Amy Cole on the suicide watch team at Guantanamo Bay detention camp. The U.S. prison is located in Cuba and has been condemned internationally for holding enemy combatants for years without trial.

The role was a new direction for Stewart, 23, who is best known for being the lead in the teen vampire "Twilight" film franchise, but has been taking riskier choices, such as 2012's "On the Road," to break out of the "Twilight" spotlight.

The actress said that while "people are a little bit afraid of doing movies about current issues," writer-director Peter Sattler had created a character in Cole that reflected most young women today.

"It's a story about a girl who is really simple and really relatable, and just like probably most girls across the entire country. She's a really normal, simple-minded girl from Florida who wants to do the right thing and ultimately doesn't feel like she is," Stewart told Reuters.

While observing detainees every three minutes to make sure no one has harmed themselves, Cole bonds with detainee 417, otherwise known as Ali (played by Payman Maadi), who constantly asks for the final installment of the Harry Potter novels.

The seemingly simple request generates laughs on the surface, but deeper down, unearths Ali's own desperate search for how both Harry Potter and his own story will end.

"When you involve people from very different backgrounds and differences of opinions, there's something there that never goes away but you're both human, even though you may be in a position where you're pitted against each other," Stewart said.   Continued...

Cast member Kristen Stewart attends the premiere of the film "Camp X-Ray" at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah January 17, 2014. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart