The Secret Trial 5


By: Addison Wylie

The September 11th attacks struck fear into our society, providing a sensitive feeling of having our nerves wracked and having a newfound definition to defensiveness.  But, sometimes precautions towards the “war on terror” are taken too far and end up doing additional harm to innocent people.

Five Muslim men were selected and arrested for having links to terrorism with some of those individuals having a loose relationship to Osama Bin Laden.  At least, that’s what Canada’s security believed and failed to initially make clear.  The convicted men, on the other hand, had no clue what they were being prosecuted for.  They continued their confusion during prolonged jail time as well as other harsh conditions that followed with so-called improvements.

The information in Amar Wala’s documentary The Secret Trial 5 is competently arranged.  It’s also heartbreaking, scary, and infuriating.  The fact that so much evidence was left hushed and undercooked is humiliating.

Over 80 minutes, Wala escorts the audience through the hardship those defeated men endured.  The documentarian has interviewed the available inmates as well as people who are educated on Canada’s judicial system who are just as confounded by the unfair activity that took place.

While the disturbing greyness of the sentencing is comprehensive, The Secret Trial 5 is missing that clear perspective of why security thought these men were threats and where this troubling information erupted from.  However, it’s clear by the end that those powerful associations did not wish to be involved with Wala’s project, hence stopping that side of the argument from fleshing out.  From an audience’s point-of-view, actions speak louder than words.

The technical presentation of Wala’s doc is satisfactory, though I would’ve preferred if some of the up-to-date cutaways were less rehearsed.  I particularly took a liking towards the chalkboard animations showing movie goers the process of security certificates and the handling of “secret evidence”.  The scratchy instrumental track that accompanies these scenes underlines just how shady and scrutinizing these professional procedures come off as.

Acting as an interesting and important piece, The Secret Trial 5 successfully documents this dark, analytical chapter in a post-9/11 world while also raising future awareness.

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