The Secret Trial 5

Poster for The Secret Trial 5

Winter 2015 Documentary series

Wednesday, March 4, 2015 at 7:00pm

Acadia Cinema's Al Whittle Theatre
450 Main Street, Wolfville, NS

Directed by Amar Wala

Screenplay by Amar Wala

Rated NR · 1h 24m

View trailer

The Secret Trial 5

Imagine spending years in prison without being charged with a crime or knowing exactly what you are accused of. A film about the human impact of the “War on Terror,” The Secret Trial 5 is a sobering examination of the Canadian government’s use of security certificates, a Kafkaesque tool that allows for indefinite detention without charges, based on evidence not revealed to the accused or their lawyers.

Over the last decade, this rare and highly controversial device has been used to detain five men for nearly 30 years combined. To date, none has been charged with a crime or has seen the evidence against them. Through the experience of the detainees and their families, the film raises poignant questions about the balance between security and liberty.

A true crowdfunding success story, The Secret Trial 5 was shot over four years on funds raised primarily through public contributions. Using their animated trailer, the filmmakers reached out to Canadians and raised nearly $50,000 through two campaigns before being selected as recipients of Telefilm Canada’s inaugural Micro-Budget Program.

While travelling back and forth for shoots in Toronto, Montreal, and Ottawa, first-time filmmakers Amar Wala and Noah Bingham stayed true to their grassroots, community-based approach to production by constantly sharing progress and staying connected with their supporters. Partnering with several human rights and legal organizations along the way, the team’s goal has always been to raise awareness and spur debate about security certificates at every stage of production.

“Wala tackles a very complex subject, steeped in equal measures of secrecy and absurdity, and makes it comprehensible while giving the audience some sense of the toll it has taken on the men as well as their families. He also presents some useful context from a number of respected legal minds and human rights advocates. The utter silence from the other side—a host of government agencies—speaks volumes. As Canadians, we’re used to looking elsewhere in the world and shuddering at the lack of due process and respect for human rights. This film is bound to shake many of us out of that sense of smug complacency.” (Peter Howell,

“If the doc seems biased, don’t blame the filmmakers. There wasn’t a single government representative who would talk to them.” (Susan G. Cole, NowToronto)