Having deferred his filmmaking ambitions to pursue a career in investment banking, Taran Davies was working in lower Manhattan when the World Trade Center was destroyed on September 11, 2001. Two weeks later, just as the U.S. military began its bombing campaign against Afghanistan's Taliban regime, Davies decided to once again pick up his camera. His plan was to travel to Afghanistan with his Afghan-American friend Walied Osman to see how the Afghan people have coped with nearly a quarter century of constant war, hoping that their example could serve as an inspiration to Americans back home. By that measure alone, these poignant profiles in Afghan survival is an unqualified success, but the film addresses a second, equally important issue: the future of Afghans exiles, many of whom doubt the wisdom of ever returning home. Davies embarks on his journey with one question in mind: What hope have Afghans for the future? In Queens, NY, Davies meets Ad Sharza, an Afghan émigré who was imprisoned and tortured by the Taliban. Sharza expresses little hope for the future; his wife thinks the whole place should simply be leveled with an atomic bomb. While waiting in Tajikistan for permission to cross into Afghanistan, Davies and Osman bunk with Afghan exiles Ali Baig, his wife Shukria and their four children. Ali survived the sacking of Kabul by the warring mujaheddin, but was later persecuted by the Taliban for having worked for the Soviets. Now, far from his mother, who has emigrated to Canada, and unemployed, Ali and his family are trapped in a country hostile to Afghans but unwilling to grant them an exit visa. Once in northern Afghan town of Faizabad, Davies and Osman stay with Hadji Ahamed Shamsadin, a respected elder, and his son, Zia, a former commando who hopes one day to be reunited with his wife and children in Moscow. Zia explains that for Afghan children there is little hope: Many are refugees who know nothing of the past or future, only war. Finally, in Shari Bazurg, Davies and Osman are introduced to Najib Najibullah, an organizer for the UN's World Food Program who isn't ready to give up on his country. Najib works tirelessly to combat starvation and encourage reconstruction; hope, it seems, is all he has. Running a little under an hour, this remarkable film accomplishes a great deal, drawing an important connection between what both Americans and Afghans were experiencing in the wake of 9/11, while turning a sharp eye to the intertwined futures of both countries.
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- Released: 2003
- Rating: NR
- Review: Having deferred his filmmaking ambitions to pursue a career in investment banking, Taran Davies was working in lower Manhattan when the World Trade Center was destroyed on September 11, 2001. Two weeks later, just as the U.S. military began its bombing cam… (more)