Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Kambakhsh, his trial and the jurors

Afghan Judges and jury members!

Chief Justice of Supreme Court of Afghanistan Abdul Salam Azimi

Just once watch 12 before making an important decision!


It is a good film to be watched once by the judges of judicial branch

While international efforts are made for the immediate release of Parwiz Kambakhsh without any trial, he is still in the prison waiting for the days of trial.

He was not feeling well the last time he appeared in the court, so he asked for a week of time so he gets better.

“It is a matter of my life” said Parwiz, “so I have to be fine to defend myself”.
In this case, in a few days, Parwiz Kambakhsh is going to be heard again in the appeal court to defend his case as he has appealed for.

Parwiz Kambakhsh facing death sentence accused of blasphemy, in appeal court

He appeared in the court with handcuffs which should not have happened for a journalist though, but it is Afghanistan; Criminals are rewarded and innocents, the enlightened and intellectuals are tortured and suffered.

A few days ago, the judicial branch announced that Parwiz Kambakhsh will be released provided that he apologizes before the media, for what he is accused of, while this request of the judicial branch of Afghanistan is an obvious attack and censorship against freedom of speech in Afghanistan.

When I heard of Parwiz Kambakhsh request for a week time until he gets better, I just thought of writing a short message to the Afghan Judges and Juries, to be very careful, to be very sensitive, to be accurate and then to be real human beings when making any important decisions that is the decision of some one’s life and death.

Therefore, I would recommend them to watch a film which might be interesting for them and help them how to make decisions on such sensitive cases, so within these days when they have time, they should at least watch once this film, although it is a film from a country which they think have been their biggest enemy in the past decades; a film from Russia.

12 (2007) by Nikita Mikhalkov

Of course, I am talking about 12 a film from Russia, directed by Nikita Mikhalkov, that I watched in the 64th International Venice Film Festival last year.
Nikita Mikhalkov is the director who received career award and was honored for the "ensemble of his work", after the closing ceremony of the 64th Venice International Film Festival on 08 September 2007.

Nikita Mikhalkov, kissing his career award recieved at 64th International Venice Film Festival

I think watching a film just for once may not give a person enough tips and thoughts to write a critic on it, therefore I am not writing a critic but just shortly introduce the film to the Afghan judges and juries who want to decide on Parwiz Kambakhsh’s case, although, the case in the film is quite different from Kambakhsh’s case, but the main thing how a person is trialed and based on what facts and evidences the final decision is made in a court.

Although this film is said to be a newer copy of old “Twelve hungry men” 1957 directed by Sidney Lumet but it is still strong enough to have its viewers.

First I like the theme of this film, the trial of a Chechen boy accused of murdering his Russian stepfather. Although there are just a few locations in this film, and most of the parts of the film were shot indoor inside a gymnasium of a school building where the decision is being made, by a group of 12 jurors to judge and make the final decision about the Chechen Boy, but still the film is so attractive that catches the attention of the viewers in every single moment. The outdoor scenes are limited, in the beginning, and then when there are flashbacks of the story. Such stories with limited locations and a tender theme can be very difficult for the directors to make it successfully but Nikita Mikhalkov has done is wonderfully while he himself had a role in it too.

Apart from the strength of the director, for using the artistic creativity in lighting, symbolism, accurate casting and marvelous acting of actors to create an atmosphere of suspense and attraction, the viewers are not for once but for many times being tricked by the director when they see the vice versa of what they predict what is to happen next, and this way, the film spikes the viewers to sit and watch it to the end without knowing how it passed.

In theory, sitting of a group of jurors in a single room or a hall discussing about a matter like to decide about an accused prisoner, seem to be very boring while in this film, the atmosphere created is not boring at all which is the strength of the director.

The twelve jurors making decision about the Chechen boy are with different backgrounds; a hesitant TV producer, a flamboyant musician, a racist taxi-driver, a suspicious doctor, a Holocaust survivor, a cemetery manager and some others. Once all of them decide to vote against the boy after a long discussion accept one, so the film seem to go to towards to acme, and this one person remaining alone can not vote against, because his logic, his reasons and evidences are not enough to vote against that boy and more important is matter of the life of a human being!

There was a strong sense of humanity visible along the film; the result of the discussions many times turns against the accused prisoner, but again comes back for his favor and this way, all reasoning, defending and discussions are indeed the story telling of the pasts and experiences of each of the jury members but still important points of the director are;
“One negative vote is also a vote and a voice and sometimes can bring a change”, or “Let’s not ignore but consider any possibilities and probabilities that can effect our decisions especially when we make an important decision”, and “it worth to take time, do enough research, make it sure from different aspects, consider any possibilities and evidences when we make decision about life or death sentence of a human being”, and the director has been successful to deliver his messages through his film.

I hope the Afghan judges and jury members would hear my voice and once watch this film before making any decisions about Parwiz Kambakhsh, because it is a matter of innocence and guiltiness, it is a matter of life and death of an intellectual human being, who he has done nothing wrong accept being curious to know more and increase his knowledge, is it a crime?!

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