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The Forgotten War: Docs Go Back to Afghanistan

ReelPolitik By Anthony Kaufman | ReelPolitik June 26, 2007 at 3:14AM

The Forgotten War: Docs Go Back to Afghanistan
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If film trends have something to say about our current world, then we are in deep shit (Agnes Varnum's recent post "USA vs. Freedom" offers further proof). Back in April, I was pitching around a story about the spate of films concerning Afghanistan. While Iraq dominates the headlines, with dozens of causalties reported every day, the slow slog in Afghanistan -- the "forgotten war" -- is quietly spinning out of control outside of the purview of many mainstream news outlets. This is, of course, where docs can come in handy.

At the Human Rights Watch International Film Festival, I recently interviewed outspoken Afghan activist and recently ousted Parliament member Malalai Joya and filmmaker Eva Mulrad ("Enemies of Happiness") for The American Prospect. Joya, who is under constant threat of assassination, spoke passionately about the current turmoil of her country, and how things are actually not that different since the U.S. invaded the country nearly six years ago, with warlords and criminals controlling the country and drug-smuggling at all-time highs.

I also look forward to the release of Alex Gibney's "Taxi to the Dark Side," which closely ties Afghanistan torture practices with those at Gitmo and Abu Ghraib. Even "Beyond Belief," a tear-jerker about 9/11 widows who travel to Kabul in the spirit of solidarity, rightfully returns the spotlight to the war-torn nation. I never saw two other Afghan films that played at the Tribeca Film Festival ("Zolykha’s Secret" and "Postcards from Tora Bora"), but it seems like a critical mass of Afghan docs is building. Hopefully, these works can help steer the media's tunnel-vision from Iraq and Paris Hilton to the wider picture.