MARCH 27 2012 YELLOW HOUSE DIARY. I am writing from Kabul , having finished shooting Love City (doc) ,our new drama ‘Simorgh’ and creating the Yellow House . Yesterday I got 8 of our Yellow House group to come up from Jalalabad and meet the Australian Ambassador and his staff. I was very proud of the YH group as they arrived in flash new western style suits with collars and ties and shiny shoes. The meeting went well but during it we were interrupted a couple of times by the sad news that a consultant for Ausaid and his team had been targeted by a suicide bomber and were struggling for their lives with very serious injuries. It made me realize how lucky we had been to be in one piece and not tragically injured or killed. The Ambassador revealed that it costs one million dollars per year for one Australian Soldier in Afghanistan . Boy ! What could we do at the Yellow House with the budget of one soldier ! The maximum grant we can get for our project is just $10,000 as our Government has reduced this kind of aid to almost zero . The Industrial Revolution in England and Europe made ‘big war’ inevitable – millions of rural and manual workers were without jobs so needed to be used for canon fodder before they turned to revolution. Here in Afghanistan modern war industry equipment is killing very poor rural people who have never seen TV or experienced electricity. The industry of war is all consuming and makes no apologies for its cost. It was sad to put my colourful artists back in their car to travel to Jalalabad while knowing their expectations of my rich home country , Australia , assisting them with ongoing funding was only a dream – and they will be lucky if, after I have helped them fill out dozens of application forms,to get anything more than a token amount. I watched the new Sherlock Holmes movie to switch off after our meeting . In it the evil genius Moriati is buying bandages and canons and tanks and munitions factories and trying to start a world war. Holmes foils his 1892 attempt but Moriati says to Holmes ‘ war on an industrial scale is inevitable ‘ . Then I think of another movie , ‘Company Men’ which is about the end of industry in the US . The vast ship yard which was once producing frigates and luxury liners is now dormant – like Detroit – the once busy factories are ghost buildings with broken windows , rust and metal scavengers.The only people making money are those shuffle it in banks and on the stock exchange. This makes me ask “If Industry on a large scale is over in the US and most of Europe , how long will their foreign wars continue on an Industrial Scale ? ” It would be great to see war decline the way other industries have . While Industry is booming in asia there are now millions of unemployed in what were once industrial giants, especially in the US. It is worrying to guess what kind of war machine will consume them ? Human nature has always used war to prune what is no longer productive in the profit garden. Just as the anarchists were featured in the late 1890’s disruptions in the Sherlock Holmes movie – Occupy Wall Street and similar anti corruption movements are gathering at the doors of the powerful. After Holmes I watched Hoover – Clint Eastwood’s new movie. This seemed an appropriate double bill .Sherlock would have been impressed with Edgar’s ability to organise forensic science and develop it to what it is now. They were both cross dressers and may have had a gay old time in the lab with some test tubes and formaldehyde . A very overweight Ugandan UN consultant just came in to where I am eating breakfast and typing. He is a good double for Idi Amin and is on crutches. I asked him what had happened to him and he had “slipped in the toilet because the cleaners had left the tiles wet’. He started lamenting all the latest news of ISAF military casualties . I said ” what do you expect when you have all those thousands and thousands of soldiers crowed together for a year or more without women and the general denial by the US military that men have sexual needs. Of course , this will find an outlet in aggression and acts of madness.” Then I remembered what the Ambassador said about just one soldier costing a million dollars to be kept on duty in Afghanistan for one year.It seems Moriati has descendants in the war industry in 2012 and the game is still the same. George G Kabul.
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 ,