Hello from Jalalabad,
We have had a holiday today as it is Moslem New Year. My Pakistani group played cricket against the Afghans and won . It was a lot of fun . Neha did the running commentary and I was a part time umpire.
Then I watched the Abu Ghraib film Standard Operating Procedure. I do not know if you have seen it but it is very depressing that the only people who were convicted were below no higher than the rank of sergeant and that everyone there was given a one month amnesty so all the other evidence was shreaded . It is terrible beyond imagining what the CIA etc did to their prisoners …. the ones caught by the photos were just military police on the edge of what was really going on.
I went to Abu Ghraib before the American forces had fully taken Baghdad. I saw all the dead victims of Saddam’s regiem and those only hung at the gallows an hour before my arrival. The dogs were eating the bodies and everyone was saying that the American Invasion was a good thing because it would end Aby Ghraib . It would have been a huge moral victory if the US forces had demolished this place most connected to the evil of Uday and Saddam Hussain but they enlarged it and did things which were taboo to the Iraqi torturers.
I am feeling a little vulnerable as I have approached the US Army Press, people trying to get comment on the house ‘break ins’ and theft of cash from them (an important chapter in my doc). I am sad to say I am more unnerved by the American threat to what I am doing, here ,than the Taliban threat.They have refused to speak on camera.
It would be easy to get very paranoid after seeing Standard Procedure. It was not what I needed right now.
On a lighter note we now have two beautiful peacocks in the garden . The female is albino white and they are magnificent. They seem to calm everyone down and different members of the group can be seen sitting silently in the garden transfixed by watching the Peacocks. Everyone loves the monkey and dog and now Peacocks….. they should be safe and well cared for when we head for Norway to edit the film . Helen and I are thinking of keeping this as our main base and traveling to events like Telluride from here and then returning here. My lease is for one year and we have the option of two more years. It is sad that it is too dangerous to invite visitors , like yourself , but , perhaps , some day.
We are in a celebratory mood today because we finished shooting the new feature drama yesterday, called ‘Simorgh’ – this is the one directed by Neha. I feel a lot better about this film than the others . The vision is totally mine – Neha has really only ( between you and I ) directed the dialogue. I will, however, let her take the total directing credit . It has already been accepted to a couple festivals including the one in Grimstad , Norway. This is the festival that allowed me to pick up the Norwegian Producers and funding so it is like completing the cycle. For the last scene yesterday I bought a wooden coffin and set it up in the late afternoon in a wheat field (green short wheat sprouts) that seems to stretch to eternity . It is a dream sequence where the little girl’s father tells her he is still alive . He appears from behind the coffin.Asam is the father and Medina , the little girl. It was very very beautiful and so much better than something that would use special effects to achieve a similar result.I was worried about doing it because Medina’s real father was killed about a year ago and she is still in mourning – Asam is her uncle and stepfather. It was OK and they both seemed to get a lot from doing it. I carried the coffin up to the blue truck and as I got there a large force of Afghan special forces drove past in their Nazi looking uniforms and masks . I waved to them and they waved back – probably thinking I was burying someone . I did not know what to do with the coffin but as I was tying it into the truck the local Mullah (of the very very poor mosque near the filed ) approached me and told me the father of a poor family of field workers had died in an accident that day in the same field and the wife and children could not afford a coffin. He asked me if I would donate it to them as the funeral would be the next day and they did not want to bury him in potato sacks as they usually have to do with the poor. Of course , I was very happy to donate the coffin. I have also offered to help decorate the new mosque which is under construction.
All the best David , and lots of love ,