No stranger to American whistle-blower stories, Director Sonia Kennebeck (National Bird) tackles the unique and complicated life of Matt DeHart, formerly of the Air National Guard. The Indiana home where Matt DeHart lived with his parents was raided based on the suspicion of child pornography. Assuming that a child pornography charge was just a ploy to catch him with sensitive government documents (and because of his alleged ties with Anonymous and Wikileaks), Matt took action. He drove to Mexico, and subsequently attempted to seek help with the Russian and Venezuelan embassies in Washington, D.C. He believed the government was out to get him and realized that it was only a matter of time.
This wild story was only the beginning of a years long dance between DeHart and the United States government, including arrests, alleged torture, and seeking asylum in Canada. Even after the attempt at seeking asylum in Canada, this story continued to evolve and get more complicated.
One constant throughout this whole story was how close the family bond was between Matt and his parents, Paul and Leann. Paul and Leann were willing to protect their son by any means necessary. Despite Paul and Leann both serving their country in the US military, they believed their son, lost faith in their country, and stuck with Matt every step of the way.
Not unsurprisingly, Enemies of the State came off as quite biased for the first three quarters of the film. There were nominal scenes with statements from people who were against DeHart, but mainly it was Matt’s parents telling their terrifying story.
However, the last half of the documentary certainly takes a different turn when new evidence is uncovered. In fact, these new revelations make you question a lot of what you heard earlier on in the film. You will likely question where the truth lies and whether or not what you just heard really is a giant conspiracy theory.
Enemies of the State is an entertaining and well put together documentary that gives you as much information as possible but still made you question the truth. In fact, to this day (and largely due to Matt’s silence in the last year after being released from prison), we still don’t have the additional information that I felt was needed for closure. Needless to say I’m interested to see what, if anything, happens with Matt in the future. Matt DeHart has been compared to Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden. Is he a hero who intended to release information that America needed to hear? Or is he a criminal who attempted to cover up his wrongdoings with a conspiracy theory?
Enemies of the State premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 10, 2020.