Earlier this year, young Afghan filmmaker Syed Jalal Hussaini made a short film about a policeman who must guard a captured Taliban terrorist. The film, called Outpost (it was screened last month at the 14th Mumbai International Film Festival), earned Jalal a threat letter from the Taliban, warning him against making any such films in the future. But terrorist threats are just one of the several odds that Hussaini, and other young Kabul-based filmmakers, have to fight.
In spite of lack of funds, or even an organised film industry, in 2009, Hussaini and a few like-minded filmmakers — most of them faculty members of Kabul University — came together to form Jump Cut Film Collective. "Our aim is to talk about Afghanistan, and to bring out the truths of life and politics here," says Hussaini.
So a screening of Jump Cut’s work in the city today and tomorrow will see half a dozen interesting shorts: Life Again, by director Hassan Fazeli, is about an Afghan woman who loses a leg, whose husband leaves her, and who must then stand on her own feet, literally and symbolically. City of Dust, by Mohammad Jamil Jalla, is a 13-minute film about the struggle of two lovers in Kabul. Another one, A Letter to Light, is Ghafar Azad’s 14-minute film about a 13-year-old boy who’s going blind, and his special
friendship with a girl.
Most of these films have been made on very tight budgets and funded by the filmmakers themselves. "There are no funds. We put in our own money, and then it doesn’t pay back either. So we all have our regular jobs, and make films on the side," says Hussaini. He juggles film direction with his job as an editor at a TV station. Jump Cut’s eventual aim is to make a full-fledged feature film. But that will take time, money and a keener audience (both at home and abroad). But Outpost made it to the Busan International Film Festival, while Life Again has been to festivals in the USA, UK, Sweden and Chili. Azad’s film is scheduled to screen at London International Film Festival. It’s a small but significant step for these young people.
Catch the screenings of Jump Cut Film Collective’s films, today, at The Last Ship, Bandra, 6 pm onwards, and tomorrow at Comet Workshop Studio, Fort, 6.30 pm onwards. Entry is free and it’s open to all.