Within the first 10 minutes of this bold and often unsettling documentary, a young jihadist is asked what he is fighting for. He reads as if from a script but keeps fluffing his lines. The person behind the camera chastises him and tells him to focus. Finally after at least five attempts he gets a garbled message out. This is the face of Jihad. Young men, who are ill prepared for what they are to do. Young, impressionable men being instructed in Jihad by older, manipulative zealots. This is only half of the story and a quarter of the film. The story within the documentary can be deconstructed thus. We are taken into the battle for the political narrative in Saudi Arabia. Using found footage from raids, suicide missions and propaganda reels. Taken from the side of the Jihadist and the copious amounts of footage taken. Some serve as propaganda, others have little purpose. Other moments celebrate ideas of murder and war. These are tailed with the battles in compounds and squares where Saudi soldiers fight bravely to stop them. Others are simpler in there action. Touching almost in there simplicity and humanity. These boys are playing as any young man would. Football and feelings mix on screen.
To call this film a tragedy, documenting the monsters whose activity enact the death of people, is frankly incorrect. You see it misses the very sophisticated point that it is extracting the reality of these agents and their mind set. Both via their media and candid ideology. Director Jonathan Hacker (a well known and respected documentary maker) is a genius in allowing the voice of those committing terrible acts, to be voiced by them. To be condemned by their actions if you will. They are represented by their deeds and by their own words to guide the course. Now for some it would be seen as a tool for endorsing the events. I disagree with anyone who cant separate these elements from each others. By giving us a window into the sheer ignorance here, of people who are so misinformed and abused, we reveal the utter emptiness of this doctrine. This is actually cathartic for the watcher and I would also suspect, deeply powerful to anyone watching. Even in the awful events that happen, we are left feeling revealed. We feel that these moments are both tangible and we can see a direction out.
PATH OF BLOOD will be released in cinemas 13th July www.pathofbloodfilm.com #pathofbloodfilm
Picturehouse Central – London Premiere – 10th July
Curzon DocDays – 17th & 19th July