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Far from Afghanistan: On 10th anniversary of war, U.S. filmmakers make call to action

by Anthony Kaufman
September 28, 2011 3:48 AM
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What have you done to stop the war in Afghanistan?

For Filmmaker Magazine, I've written a story on "Far from Afghanistan," a new omnibus film project, which is the brainchild of filmmaker John Gianvito ("The Mad Songs of Fernanda Hussein"), who decided earlier this year that he had to do something to help bring an end to America's longest running conflict.

Still a work in progress, the project comprised of five short films will premiere on-line for one-week only starting on October 6 to coincide with the war's anniversary and help accelerate political resistance as well as boost funds for the project’s Kickstarter campaign. As of September 26, the project was far short of its $25,000 goal, raising only about $5,300.

Inspired by the 1967 French documentary "Far From Vietnam," which includes nonfiction entries from Jean-Luc Godard, Agnes Varda, Alain Resnais, and Chris Marker, among others, Gianvito compiled a list of about 25 U.S. filmmakers to take par in the project; the final four are Travis Wilkerson ("An Injury to One"), veteran indie director Jon Jost ("All the Vermeers in New York"), filmmaker Minda Martin and media artist Soon-Mi Yoo. Gianvito told me they’re planning to premiere the project as a feature-length film in 2012, with several film festivals already showing interest.

But can a series of experimental anti-prop docs really make a difference?

Here's Gianvito response in full to that query: "In brief, I think every artist must maintain humility about the capacity of any single work 'changing the world'. To set out making that claim is sheer hubris. That said, history reveals that films have made differences (good and bad I might add). There are films that literally prompted the changing of laws, films that succeeded in releasing people jail, films that inspired or sustained movements. Thought about from another angle, if images had no power why would any of them be banned? It seems evident that cinema, and media in general, can be powerful tools to stir, shape, and also manipulate consciousness."

"On a personal level I do know that there are films (and other art works) I have experienced in the course of my life that I felt made a difference for me. Changing the world sounds so Herculean and amorphous really, but changing the 'world within' happens, if perhaps not frequently enough. To me any work that reawakens and re-sensitizes me to my own humanity and those around me is performing valuable political work."


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