Frame by Frame delves into grocery shopping, pop concerts, inequality, drugs, love, and a media revolution in Afganistan.
Alexandria Bombach talks to Screen NSW about the revealing documentary Frame by Frame ahead of its Australian premiere at the Persian Film Festival.
What is so important about this documentary?
I feel this is an important documentary for westerners to see. It shows a side of Afghanistan that is rarely shown in mainstream media and lets the audience connect with four human beings in a way that hopefully evokes empathy versus sympathy.
What attracted you to the subject of Afghanistan’s fight for a free media?
I think it started with a curiosity about Afghanistan. I wanted to hear from the local storytellers of Afghanistan because Afghanistan’s story is so often manipulated and sensationalised. Photography is such a powerful storytelling tool and building a free press is a huge part of a keeping a country stable. It also felt timely because Afghanistan's free press is now dealing with an international media pull out, a weakening economy, and a new government.
Journalists are often targets of the Taliban - how did you gain so much access to practitioners in the country?
My co-director Mo Scarpelli and I spent time with each of the photographers in their day-to-day lives. I think that access was about a personal trust that we had established.
As two female filmmakers in Afghanistan, how did you overcome the challenges of gender when you were filming?
Being a filmmaker, there were many challenges. But as a woman I felt my gender was an advantage. This film would not be possible if my co-director and I were men. Being women, we were able to follow Farzana into the room with her female subjects. Access is limited for men – especially foreign ones.
The Taliban changed the life of a generation, conditions were bad, people lost their families and people felt frightened, how did you get them to open up on film?
We were honored that Najibullah, Massoud, Wakil and Farzana shared their lives with us. As storytellers themselves, they knew what we were trying to do with this film and were nothing but open.
In your ambition to create this film you come across as fearless. Were you intimidated?
I felt a full gamut of emotions. I think filmmakers have to undergo big risks to make a film, and there is not much time to worry about making mistakes.
The film covers poverty, drug use, and self-immolation and gender inequality. How do you think Afghanistan is fairing?
Frame by Frame also delves into grocery shopping, pop concerts, love, and a media revolution. As a documentary filmmaker, I don’t think it’s my place to sum up where this complex but resilient country stands after 35 years of war, but I do feel a responsibility to show multiple sides.
2014 saw the most cases of violence against journalists in the history of Afghan media. Are you fearful for the journalists in the film?
Of course. They are my dear friends.
You can book tickets to Frame by Frame on this link: http://persianfilmfestival.com/feature-film/frame-by-frame/
Screening At: Palace Norton Street
Date and Time: 3:30 PM | September 5, 2015
Original Title: Frame by Frame
Language: Persian with English Subtitles
Runtime: 85 min
Writer: Alexandria Bombach, Mo Scarpelli
Producer: Alexandria Bombach, Mo Scarpelli
When the Taliban ruled Afghanistan, taking a photo was a crime. After the regime fell from power in 2001, a fledgling free press emerged and a photography revolution was born. Now, as foreign troops and media withdraw, Afghanistan is left to stand on its own, and so are its journalists. Set in a modern Afghanistan bursting with color and character, FRAME BY FRAME follows four Afghan photojournalists as they navigate an emerging and dangerous media landscape – reframing Afghanistan for the world, and for themselves. Through cinema verite, intimate interviews, powerful photojournalism, and never-before-seen archival footage shot in secret during the Taliban regime, the film connects audiences with four humans in the pursuit of the truth.
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