Turkish-German Murat Kurnaz was held from 2001 to 2006 in American detention camps in Afghanistan and at Guantánamo Bay. He was 19 when, as a fresh convert to Islam, he was on a pilgrimage to Pakistan and was promptly arrested on suspicion of terrorism. 5 Years is based on true events and tells his story: how he was tortured and interrogated continuously and mercilessly at Guantánamo Bay.
The film concentrates on the harsh struggle between Kurnaz and his American interrogator, Gail Holford, who tries to win his trust in order to get him to confess, while the physical and psychological torture goes on. It cost Kurnaz enormous willpower to maintain his innocence under this pressure.
Stefan Schaller chooses to seldom show the violence explicitly. He lets the imagination of the viewer do the work, which makes the horror of Kurnaz's detention even more insistent.