WHAT: Afghanistan documentary film festival
WHO: UFPPC and the Micah project of First United Methodist Church in Tacoma
WHEN: Mar. 21 & 28 and Apr. 4, 2009, 8:00 p.m.
WHERE: First United Methodist Church, 621 Tacoma Avenue South, Tacoma, WA 98402
FIRST NIGHT -- 2 1/2 HOURS
SATURDAY, MARCH 21, 2009 — 7:00 p.m. (films at 8:00 p.m.)
WHERE DO THINGS STAND TODAY? — An overview of the recent past, giving some idea of the current state of conflict in Afghanistan/Pakistan today.
1. Taliban II; The Revival (2007, English and Afghani with subtitles, 49 min.) — An unspoken civil war is being waged for control of Pakistan. The Taliban already rule the tribal belt. Now, they’re bringing their fight straight to government's doorstep. Pakistan’s capital has been rocked by a wave of suicide bombings. Islamic militias usurp all the functions of state while streets throng with protests in the street. Can a moderate Pakistan survive? And how did the Taliban bounce back so quickly after their supposed defeat in Afghanistan?
2. America's Forgotten War (Fall 2008, English, 73 min.) — Photojournalist and filmmaker John D. McHugh, writing for the Guardian, returns to Afghanistan after being badly wounded last year. His video diary shows the day-to-day life of an Army Airborne unit in Afghanistan from the snow melt in April 2008 to the first snowfall in September.
3. Between the Fronts (2008, English narration & live translations, 29 min.) — For the first time we can offer an action packed view of life on the Taliban front! This is the Afghan war far from the sanitized images of the embedded journalists. It's bloody; it's fierce; and the Taliban look nowhere near to being defeated.
SECOND NIGHT -- 2 1/2 HOURS
SATURDAY, MARCH 28, 2009 — 8:00 p.m.
WHERE HAVE THEY BEEN? — These movies give us a look a little further back in Afghanistan history, but not so far that we can’t see the future.
1. State of the Talib (October 2001, English narrator, 50 min.) — Afghanistan is ruled by Islamic militants, the Taliban. This desolate country now looks set to become the scene for a new and deadly international war. Who are the Taliban? Can Pakistan really help the west to defeat Islamic terror?
2. Shadows (2004, English narration & clear subtitles, 51 min.) — Mary is a beautiful young Afghan woman who wanted to become a doctor. She leapt at the chance to start medical school. But after one term Mary leaves Kabul university after suffering discrimination because of her sex. Following the collapse of her education, she resolves to become a journalist, and to document the suppressed lives of Afghanistan’s women. In a video diary-style commentary Mary narrates her fascinating journey. Our hearts go out to her as she shows no fear in directly challenging the bigotry she finds -- and in so doing putting herself into significant danger. Shadows reveals that since the liberation of the country from the Taliban, little has changed beyond Kabul for Afghan women.
3. Opium Trail (June 2008, English narrator and translations, 43 min.) — Opium is the lifeblood of Afghanistan and America is powerless to stop it. Over 90% of the world’s opium now comes from Afghanistan. This documentary lifts the curtain on the hidden world of the drug barons; learn how to process heroin in the crudest of laboratories and encounter deadly gunfights on the Iranian border. In bleak Afghan villages, the lure of opium cultivation is clear. "What else are we to do? We have nothing else, just opium." After 30 years of war, Afghanistan is in ruins. Traditionally, the one problem it’s never faced is drug addiction. Now, all that is changing. With no future prospects and no sign of things improving, the young are turning to drugs. In the ruins of a burnt-out school, junkies smoke spliffs of heroin. "You’re ruining your lives," laments the local policeman. But his words are in vain. Tribal structures are being subverted; the young no longer listen to what their elders say. And Afghanistan’s economy remains entirely based on drugs.
THIRD NIGHT -- 1 3/4 HOURS
SATURDAY, APRIL 4, 2009 — 8:00 p.m.
WHERE ARE WE GOING? — These documentaries will detail the opinions of journalists who have been in Afghanistan in the recent past. Perhaps the Soviet experience in Afghanistan will shed some light on where the United States is likely to end up in its pursuit of “victory” in this country.
1. Jihad: Afghanistan's Holy War (1986, English narrator and translations, 52 min.) — Director/Producer Jeff B Harmon and Cameraman/Co-Producer Alexander Lindsay spent over one year making "Jihad." They wanted to capture the essence of this holy war through the peasants who refused to become refugees. For it was the peasants who were on the front line, waging a war with a modern Soviet superpower in the decade of the 1980's. In "Jihad" we penetrate the minds of those Afghan guerrillas who fought the Soviets and, against all odds, defeated them, as they had defeated Alexander the Great and Genghis Kahn centuries before.
2. Christian Parenti on Afghanistan (Jun. 8, 2007, 16 min.) — Upon his return in June 2007 from his fourth trip to Afghanistan, journalist Christian Parenti chronicles the intricate political and social situation in this war torn Afghanistan.— The stories of corruption and poverty are often overshadowed by the war in Iraq.
3. Sarah Chayes (Dec. 19, 2008, 14 min.) — When Sarah Chayes left her job as an NPR reporter to help rebuild Afghanistan, she did so because she believed that Afghanistan had the potential to be a stable, lawful country. Seven years later, as the incoming Obama Administration looks to change course in Afghanistan and send in 20,000 more troops, Chayes joins Bill Moyers on "The Journal" to explain what she thinks U.S. policy should be in the region.
4. An interview with Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke (Feb. 18, 2009, 16 min.) — The Obama team is casting a renewed focus on the Afghan-Pakistan corridor, including a broad review of policy on the region. Special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke outlines efforts to define U.S. goals for the region.
5. Frontline: The War Briefing DVD (2008, 60 min.) — A new administration comes into office in early 2009, facing a roster of challenges. It inherits an Afghanistan that needs not so much more troops -- though more troops could help -- but a situation where we don't have the politics right at all. That goes from not realizing that India and Pakistan are involved in Afghanistan for very different reasons than we are. And unless we get this Afghanistan-India-Pakistan triangle right, we're not going to make progress there. Afghanistan will not get better if all we do is put more troops on the border with Pakistan and lob shells in every time we get shot at. All that's going to lead to is more civilians being killed and making us more enemies and leading to a greater rise of the Pakistani Taliban. "Frontline" looks at the complexities America faces as it attempts to disentangle itself from this war.
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With the Afghanistan war ramping up and Pakistan destabilizing, we want to know more about the history of Afghanistan and the nature of the current conflict. In the process of broadening our own understanding, we hope to offer the people of Tacoma an insightful glimpse into what has already been an eight-year conflict and one which is projected to extend for many, many more years. For too long this war has been swept out of sight. Overshadowed by the Iraq war. It's time for us all to understand what we have to gain and lose, and explore how to stabilize or contain the region. The nature of material in these documentaries is in depth, raw and, at times, very graphic. These documentaries are not suited for young children.
This series will run for three consecutive Saturdays: March 21st, March 28th, and April 4th. The films will start promptly at 8:00 p.m. and you are welcome to join us at 7:30 p.m. for some social time before the event. All of the screenings will take place at the First United Methodist Church of Tacoma, 621 Tacoma Ave. S., Tacoma.