Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Afghan Film officials skip “Treasure in the Ruins” premiere, threaten censorship

Officials from Afghan Films, a department of Afghanistan’s Ministry of Culture overseeing the film industry, refused an invitation to the Kabul premiere of my film “Treasure in the Ruins.”

This followed a private screening after which these officials noted several objections to the film’s portrayals of Afghan government, religion and culture, and pressured Deedenow to make cuts to certain scenes from the film. The parts objected to include sections of dialogue, as well as scenes of symbolism that I feel gives the film its strength.

Deedenow stands against misunderstanding and baseless censorship. We refuse to cut the film without logical reasons to do so. We have repeatedly extended offers of support and compromise to Afghan Films, including the organization’s president Latif Ahmadi, but Ahmadi is only interested in spreading propaganda and keeping his job.

We regret that Afghan Films, which should be operating in the service of the nation’s film industry, instead acts to discourage young filmmakers and create obstacles to their projects.

Objections to the film included our omission of the spoken name of Allah at the beginning of the film, which the Afghan Films board of review states should precede all films. Instead of Allah’s name, the film opens with the barking of a dog. The board unofficially accused us of insulting Islam with this replacement, but has not yet taken official action.

Afghan Films also objected to a scene in which a soldier guarding the Darull Amaan Palace considers allowing the film’s young female protagonist inside to search for treasure. The board stated that the scene portrays weakness in the Afghan police and military, and therefore should be cut.

A third scene, in which the same young girl buries a number of military badges and metals and burns a picture of former kings, was thought to be insulting to Afghanistan’s national pride and symbols. This is not the case.

Attendance at the film’s premiere numbered more than a hundred, and included filmmakers, critics, artists and media activists, as well as journalists from various publications and television stations. Deedenow is seeking more exposure for the film, sending it to international film festivals as well as screening it within Afghanistan. We will continue to screen the film and stand up for our freedom of speech.

I will write about the corruption within the Afghan film industry in my next article. In this lies the real struggle.

-with editoral assistance from Nathan Hartle

1 comment:

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