Author Topic: New documentary has been dedicated to Bradley Manning...  (Read 1039 times)

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Offline Riney

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New documentary has been dedicated to Bradley Manning...
« on: October 02, 2012, 17:00:20 PM »
New documentary "Far From Afghanistan" has been dedicated to Bradley Manning.

Toronto International Film Festival 2012
Interviews with John Gianvito, Minda Martin and Travis Wilkerson—co-directors of Far From Afghanistan
By David Walsh
2 October 2012
WSWS arts editor David Walsh recently spoke to three of the five co-directors of Far From Afghanistan—to John Gianvito and Minda Martin in Toronto and to Travis Wilkerson, by telephone, from his home in California.

John Gianvito
John Gianvito is a director, teacher and film curator based in Boston. His 2001 feature, The Mad Songs of Fernanda Hussein, dealt with the situation in the US at the time of the first Persian Gulf war.

His Profit Motive and the Whispering Wind, I wrote in 2007, “consists of shots of the graves or tombs of radical opponents of the American establishment, from Native American warriors and early abolitionists to the many martyrs of labor struggles in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. … In some ways, a fascinating and intriguing 58 minutes.”
Gianvito’s latest documentary, Vapor Trail (Clark) (2010), explores the impact of the US military presence in the Philippines. He is working on a second part of that documentary.
Gianvito coordinated the making of Far From Afghanistan, as he explains in the following conversation, and directed its opening segment. We spoke at a coffee shop in Toronto, the morning after a successful screening of the film.
David Walsh: Can you explain how Far From Afghanistan came about?
John Gianvito: Throughout the period of the US war in Afghanistan I’ve been following it, concerned about it, engaged with it, as a citizen. And engaged with it as a filmmaker, but not so directly as to have made a film about Afghanistan. My last films have been critiques of US militarism, and I hoped it didn’t take that much of a leap to make the connection between that militarism and the current wars.
I read in early 2011 a report from the Pew Research Institute that in 2010 only four percent of US media coverage made any acknowledgment of the war, and in 2011 it went down to two percent. Yet I knew that casualties on both sides had only accelerated. So, at our most intense moment, we were paying the least heed to the war—and with the tenth anniversary of the war on the horizon, I felt that I couldn’t let that moment go unacknowledged.
I was deep into the editing of another very long documentary, the second part of Vapor Trail, when I said, I have to do something about Afghanistan. That was approximately March of 2011. I thought, to do this and have something finished by October of that year, the anniversary, it might be necessary to make some kind of collective film.
The first person I contacted was Travis Wilkerson, even though we had only physically met twice in 15 years. He’s a filmmaker that I respect a great deal, and on the American film landscape, he’s one of the few that I’m glad is out there. We’ve tried to help each other out over the years. He immediately responded positively to the project, and we began talking about who else we might bring in.
I wrote individual, personal letters to about twenty-five filmmakers. Not all at once, of course, because I didn’t want to have a situation where twenty-five people said yes. I set up an arbitrary parameter that they should be US filmmakers, because I felt we had the most responsibility in relation to this situation. A couple of filmmakers who had agreed found, as October 2011 approached, that they were too busy and would be unable to deliver a film.
In any event, it came down to these five directors. I had nothing I was offering them. Could they make a film in this short period of time? Everyone worked very hard, and we had a preliminary version by the time of the anniversary, but I could already tell as we approached the deadline that it was a bit hurried and not everything was as considered as it might be. So I said, let’s call this Far From Afghanistan—the October Edition, and keep working on it.
DW: Did everyone go off entirely on their own, so to speak? Did you know what each was making?
JG: We encouraged communication. People who wanted to would send out a cut, and would get feedback. Mostly people were open to that. When I brought in the Afghan material, initially, some of those involved felt it wouldn’t work, that the documentary footage would make the experimental material look too ‘arty.’ I didn’t feel that way.
It was complicated working with the Afghan material. Lots of times something looked interesting, and the translator would tell you what was being said, and it wasn’t so interesting. Or vice versa. A long, slow process.
This group, “Afghan Voices,” responded to what we were saying, to help us get a more dimensional view of what life is like there. I gave them a sense of what that might mean. I didn’t know entirely what the various camera people thought about the war and occupation, because I was dealing mainly with the director of the organization, but he was certainly sympathetic in general or he wouldn’t have taken this on.
I did get one message when they saw the virtually finished version, because I wanted to check with him that I could actually use their names, because there could be repercussions. It’s fine, I said, if you want to be anonymous. They said, absolutely not, they were very impressed with the film and happy to be associated with it.

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"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage" Anais Nin .. and yet we must arm ourselves with fear