Thursday, October 11, 2007

Flight of thought from Afghanistan!

After hearing about the latest security situation in my country, I wanted to write some paragraphs under this title. Two suicide bomb attacks have occurred in the same week in Kabul. A fifteen year-old boy (who was accused of being a spy for the Americans) was executed by the Taliban in Himland. Kamran Meerhazar, the outstanding and controversial young Afghan journalist, has fled the country. The government has failed to take action about the influence of the Taliban and other extremist groups within the government.

I am not sure where to begin my analysis of this situation, which forces many people (especially Afghans who work for the media, cinema, and with foreign agencies and organizations) to flee the country and live, homesick, in exile.

Sometimes it really bothers us, watching day by day as Afghanistan loses the people who really want to work for development and democracy in the country. It is one of the most dangerous sicknesses, especially for a developing country, when the flight of thoughts, or in other words the flight of intellectuals, professionals, cultural activists, artists, musicians, theoreticians, scientists, writers, and journalists, begins.

The human resources of this young generation are the most valuable form of wealth for countries like Afghanistan. They are important factors in the transition from a post-conflict society towards further development. Afghanistan needs a young work force for reconstruction in all arenas.

The present generation of Afghans, working in offices in various fields, are the result of study and work opportunities in other countries, near and far. It has taken at least a decade to build them, but so far the universities, and as a whole the higher education system of Afghanistan, have not been standardized and have not been able to train and graduate well-qualified and professional people to meet the demands of human resources in the country. There is still no modern and standard higher education curriculum available in all the universities.

The chapters being taught are at least 25 years old and there is rarely access to updated information on science and technology. The government did not have a specific plan for training the new generation of cadres to start work in the near future. Statistics show that Afghanistan has a very young generation, full of work potential, that even some European countries, like Italy, cannot equal.

If the government fails to normalize the situation by strengthening different sectors of defense and interior affairs, and stopping the threats and intimidation faced by people working in the media and foreign agencies, the flight of thoughts which has already begun will be accelerated. Not only will the government itself suffer a lack of professionals in its departments, but it will cause a lack of confidence from the international community in the Afghan government, and the flight of national and international investments from the country.

The passage of time has shown that President Karzai's administration has failed in the security sector and in building confidence.

President Karzai's administration is faced with challenges on many fronts nowadays. First, the internal governmental machinery is corrupted. Bribery is an ordinary thing in different levels of the government; the appointment of provincial governors and the chief of security police are still based on the sharing of power with former Jihadists; and the narcotics industry which feeds the Taliban has survived—it has even been increased in certain parts of the country (like Hilmand, Kandahar and Zabul) where the Taliban still have power.

Seeing all this, President Karzai's administration opens offices of amnesty and forgiveness for the Taliban. It releases the Taliban who have been captured on the battle fronts or have been arrested while perpetrating terrorist attacks, doing so based only on some ethnic relation, and giving money to them as a reward.

And now, after all the exaggeration about the Taliban by media (which I think has been a free advertisement for them by the national and local television and radio stations), they are taking advantage through several tactics and measures. They are kidnapping foreigners, kidnapping journalists, torturing and killing the people working with the foreign organizations and agencies, trying to influence journalists through intimidation, and increasing the numbers of suicide attacks in cities.

The green lights that President Karzai's administration has given to the Taliban have increased the Taliban's courage. The portrayal of these events in the national and international media shows the failure of this administration.

The Taliban are now courageous enough to challenge the government by repeating their unacceptable demand to President Karzai’s administration and the international community, which is to pull out all the foreign peacekeeping troops immediately from Afghanistan.

As a result they have shown a red light to answer the green light of the government, and have demonstrated that they are still powerful and can challenge the government at any time.

The two recent suicide bomb attacks that took place in Kabul, and execution of the fifteen year-old boy by the Taliban in Hilmand, are evidence of the fact that President Karzai's administration needs to shake a leg and take the situation seriously. They should stop missing chances and act to strengthen the defense and interior affairs sectors. Otherwise, without social or personal security, the country will soon be out of national and international professionals and the human resources which make the government stable.

Yours Sincerely,

Amin Wahidi

editorial assitance from Nathan Hartle

To the victims of the latest suicide attacks in Kabul

Booooom! The horrible and terrifying sound of explosion bangs you, your ears jingle and you don’t know if you are okay or not. You see crowds rushing away and there is dust and smoke going upwards into the sky. You hear ambulance sirens followed by the vehicles of police and intelligence forces. Your own mouth hangs open; you know nothing about what is happening. You once again check your body and ask yourself, am I really completely fine?

While your ears continue to jingle and you smell smoke, dust and human blood, other people run away or wail and cry. The policemen shout to the crowd to leave and spread out, and you thank God that you were safe this time. You make your way home with uncertain steps. If there is another explosion what will happen to you, will you still be safe and alive? Who knows except God?

The images still bother you, even when you are in your bed, which should be your most comfortable and safe place. You remember the innocent women and children who had no fault and no sin, no mistake and no enmity with anyone, who were killed before your eyes just a few meters away from you. Where you could have been killed too!

You start thinking, and you think and think until the next morning arrives, but you never find a reason why these innocent people were killed or who could be responsible for this cruelty. You begin the next day with no guarantee or assurance of your safety for even a moment. How long will you live? Will another explosion hit you today? Will it hurt or kill you? God knows. This kind of life is like a house in water; at any time the flood can come and take it away and destroy it.

It is one side of the coin to be an ordinary person living in Afghanistan, but when you are an artist, a writer, a journalist, a VJ or a filmmaker you are more at risk than an ordinary person. You feel more responsibility than the ordinary men of your society. Your passion is to take your weapon, which is a pen, and use it for the welfare of the other living beings in your society. Instead of thinking only about who is responsible for these crimes, you go further and find solutions—maybe some ways to prevent and stop all this bloodshed. You come to the point of writing about it, making a play about it, or making a film about it, creating your own depiction of the cruelty of suicide attacks.

Then you have to begin building a story about it. Day and night you write, and finally you complete your story and adapt it into a screenplay, a screenplay ready to shoot! But then you need funds and support to film your written screenplay. You look for different sources to get your film funding. You think it might be better to look for it further from home, so you decide to go oversees, to another land. You travel to a land that you have never seen before, hoping to meet some people who can help you realize your thoughts and your vision, and deliver your message to your nation.

This still would not be enough. You have to advertise your film wherever possible: in your blog, on your website, in the newspapers, with your friends, on television when you have an interview, and wherever else you can reach. Then you return to your homeland with full hands, but what you receive are curses instead of rewards!

You are faced with terror, with intimidation, with the threat of death! This is the end, you think. You have lost everything: your family, your home, your people, your comfort, your wealth, your life...But in the dark, when everyone else is asleep and you are still thinking about it, you hear a voice saying: No! Never give up! This is not the end; indeed this is the beginning of a new stage of life, a new way of living. Just keep going and going, you will obtain what you want and achieve your goals.

You are confused. Who could have told you all this? Maybe God? No! You are not a prophet, that God tells you things. Maybe it was an angel, or maybe it was your heart. But it doesn’t matter at all, because you will begin your next day full of hopes and you will take your steps more firmly. Tomorrow is brighter than today, because by then the blind-minded suicide bombers will be regretful of the wrong way they have followed and will feel the fire of hell.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

"Treasure in the Ruins" screening at Milano Film Festival

"Treasure in the Ruins" was screened in the 12th edition of the Milano Film Festival, held from Sept. 14 to 23, 2007 in Milan, Italy. After attending the EIUC summer school and Venice International Film Festival, Amin Wahidi traveled around Italy to meet with different people involved in arts and cinema.

When arrived at the Milano Film Festival on Sept. 14, the festival had already set its screening schedule weeks beforehand.

Fortunately, being a hopeful young filmmaker Wahidi was well received by the director of the festival, Mr. Beniamino Saibene, and his staff. He spent two days in the festival directors' house. Finally, his film was picked for an Aug. 16 screening in the Stranglehold Room of Milan’s Parco Sempione.

Called the Salon des Refuses, this screening area is set aside for the festival’s non-competition and late-arriving films. This part of the festival is an important platform, being within reach of unknown and underground directors.

Screening both short and feature films, the Milano Film Festival is smaller than the Venice International Film Festival in size, but is much more interesting and useful for young, lesser-known filmmakers. This year the festival was accompanied by musical performances.

Another interesting thing about the Milano Film Festival is the participation of many volunteers from different countries as helpers and facilitators. This distinguishes the Milano festival from the other ones in Italy.

Deedenow Cinema is keen to take part in future editions of this film festival by volunteering in some of the activities and sending their films (on time) to the festival.