Sunday, March 9, 2008

An open letter to the Cultural department of Municipality of Milan, Film schools, cultural- artistic associations and film productions in Milan

Subject: Support for conducting a festival of documentary and short films from Afghanistan in Milan


As an Afghan filmmaker currently living in Milan, I would like to conduct a one week short and documentary festival of films from Afghanistan here in Milan. After being here for nearly five months, I can feel the need to introduce my country to the Italian public. This is an important period for both countries. My filmmaker colleagues in Afghanistan agree, and are keen to send their films to be screened here.

Therefore I would like the cultural department of Municipality of Milan, arts associations, film schools and film producers in Milan to support the concept of an Afghan film festival.

Why and what is the need for this festival?

Visuals of Afghanistan has always been confined to archive images that are repeated in the media when Afghanistan enters the media cycle. These images only show Afghanistan to be a war torn and dusty place. However, there are many other things about Afghanistan that can show the current reality of Afghanistan, especially for audiences and readers in countries, like Italy, that are involved in Afghanistan’s reconstruction and peace process.

It is very important for these people to see the results of their contributions to this process and especially in developing a democratic government. Cinema can reflect a better and clearer image of Afghanistan for them than violent news or archival footage.

The art and literature of a country can play a major role in connecting people and introducing them to the others. The latest example “The Kite Runner” a best selling book in the US has become a film, and once again reminds people about Afghanistan.

Having fled from death threats in his own country, Amin Wahidi, the exiled young Afghan filmmaker in Milan Italy wants to take the initiative of introducing his country to the Italians through the films of young and independent Afghan filmmakers. He would also like to link the filmmakers of both countries through this film festival to have cultural – artistic connections and relations in the future.

While looking forward to receiving positive reactions from the readers of this open letter we are still working on the programming and planning of this small festival. Soon we will write the details of program of the festival in this blog.


  1. Letter from an Italian regarding the value of Afghan culture, and a response from an American.

    From Luca de Angelis:

    I'm sorry but what "Afghanistan's reconstruction and peace process"
    are you talking about? Afghanistan is a country AT WAR with Kabul's
    government having no control whatsoever on most of the territory.

    I'm sorry I don't see any "developing a democratic government" in a
    country where you can risk the death penalty if you convert to
    Christianity or criticize Islam, where most women still wear burqas
    having just a little more rights than with the talibans and where two
    little actors had to leave their native country because of the death
    threats received after shooting "The Kite Runner".

    I am truly sorry but until at least you Afghans who live in our
    countries don't start calling what is going on in your tormented
    homeland with its true name I don't see any use in having an Afghan
    film festival in any western country.

    You say that "Cinema can reflect a better and clearer image of
    Afghanistan for them than violent news or archival footage" but I
    think that the western media propaganda is already depicting a way too
    optimistic and unrealistic image of a country where things seem to do
    anything but to move on and progress, with no one having a clue on
    what to do. I don't mean to be offensive or anything but I think that
    a movie festival with the intentions you explained would only add
    propaganda to propaganda.

    Sincerely yours, Luca De Angelis


    Well Luca, if you study what Afghanistan was like 7-20 years ago, you would see a huge improvement. Afghanistan is making huge strides, but it is not easy and it is not fast, and it is not a game for quitters.

    You want to blame native Afghans for the problems. However, if you read history, you will find that imperialist Westerners invaded Afghanistan, then left it in the terrible condition it is today, with Afghans struggling to pick up the pieces.

    If you look back to the Italian fascists of the 1930s-40s, you will find horrors equal to or greater than what you find in Kabul today, except many Afghans around the world are struggling, along with Americans and British and many others to keep the non-Afghan fascists from completely dominating Afghanistan.

    The USSR was a Western country that killed millions of Afghans. The Taliban and warlords were generously funded and armed by the US, Pakistan, various Arab states, and who knows who else, then allowed to murder their way to the top, and crush native Afghan culture and people.

    After the fall of the Taliban, the West again essentially turned its back on Afghanistan and allowed the worst criminal elements into power. If you visit Afghanistan, you will find many intelligent, brave, enterprising, diligent, curious, creative, loyal, friendly and hopeful people determined to improve their lives against all odds, especially the powerful foreign interests who breed chaos.

    What if, after WWII, the British and US had told the USSR, here, along with Albania, take Italy too? The US and Europe have twice turned Afghanistan over to religious fascists. So don't walk away from Afghanistan with simple answers that have little to do with reality.

    There are many good books on the subject that present the real history, and not shallow Western press baby food meant only to deflect the guilt every Westerner with a full belly and a warm bed should feel after the horrible treatment given to Afghanistan and other developing countries still reeling from the West's selfish, imperialist past.

    Robert Maier

  2. I just got back from Afghanistan, adn I am sorry, but I fully agree with Luca.

    There is no "democratic government." The constitution has turned into a piece of joke.

    Schools are being built but children have to work in order to provide food for themselves. So what is the point of all these schools?

    There are hundreds of NGO's working in Afghanistan to "rebuild" it but it is full of corruption.

    Millions of dollars that have gone into the country are in the pockets of only few.

    Women can not even leave their houses without getting raped.

    What kind of recontruction is that?


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