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Sundance Q-and-A: The ‘small story’ in Guantanamo in ‘Camp X-Ray’

Peter Sattler says he’s "always been attracted to small stories about big things."

That’s why Sattler devised "Camp X-Ray," a two-character drama about a guard and a detainee in Guantanamo Bay.

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Sattler, who wrote and directed the film that debuted Friday in the U.S. Dramatic competition of the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, was inspired by a scene in a documentary about Guantanamo -- which showed a detainee peppering a guard with questions about the books on a library cart.

A version of that scene is played out by the film’s two leads, a green soldier named Amy (played by Kristen Stewart) and a detainee, Alim (played by Payman Maadi, star of the Iranian drama "A Separation").

Stewart and Maadi rehearsed together for more than a week, Maadi said at the screening’s Q-and-A session.

"Most of my scenes were with Kristen," Maadi said. "It was very important to get the vibe."

Stewart said the role was a lot closer to her personality than many she has played. "She had aspects that I am, that I really felt," she said.

Much of the role is in the tiny details of daily life for a Gitmo guard. For example, her character regularly does "the walk," circling the small cell block to check on each detainee every three minutes.

"I forgot how to turn left," Stewart joked.

-- Sean P. Means

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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