[Exclusive Video] Death to the Camera

The Afghan-made documentary that was awarded at Switzerland’s largest short film festival.

Switzerland’s largest short film festival, the International Short Film Festival Winterthur (Internationalen Kurzfilmtage Winterthur), awarded Death to the Camera its prestigious “Promotional Award.”

Stylistically, the documentary reminded me of 12 Angry Men in that the narrative thrust is carried not by scene changes but by what can result from a lack of them: a laser-like focus into a situation and the jagged edges of multiple minds trying to resolve something together. In this case, Death to the Camera shows Afghan women on a work site questioning where international aid goes, the effectiveness of their government, and even the usefulness of making such films. It’s raw, but ripe with thought and engagement.

The story behind the story is equally intriguing not only for what it created here but for its potential to completely revolutionize and localize filmmaking. Director and cinematographer Sayed Qasem Hosseini was one of ten Afghans trained in an intensive 5-week documentary filmmaking training course by Community Supported Film in Kabul, Afghanistan in the fall of 2010. The training resulted in the collection The Fruit of Our Labor – Afghan Perspectives in Film, in which Death to the Camera was the final of ten films. Many other projects are underway and all have as their purpose the training of storytellers from poor and developing communities in non-fiction filmmaking. CSFilm then assists these storytellers with career development so that they can become filmmakers and video-journalists.

This film was granted in full to The Good Men Project for a time period. We can now only offer the trailer. You can watch the film in full by purchasing the DVD or by organizing a screening in their community.

Excerpt from “Death to the Camera” by Qasem Hossaini from Michael Sheridan on Vimeo.

About Michael Sheridan, Founder & Director of CSFilm

CSFilm’s founding director, Michael Sheridan, has twenty years experience in filmmaking, education and producing stories on sustainable development in Africa, Asia and the Americas. He has produced, shot and edited stories for PBS, ABC, TLC, Discovery Networks and National Geographic. His story on gender and microenterprise in Bangladesh was the center of a PBS special, Beyond Beijing, Women and Economic Justice. Michael co-founded Oxfam America’s documentary production unit and has sought to break new ground in the effective use of media to educate and change policy. Michael has taught documentary filmmaking for 15 years in Boston, and from 2007-08 he served as a Senior Fulbright Scholar in Indonesia teaching television production, journalism and media studies at two prominent universities.

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About Community Supported Film

Community Supported Film (CSFilm.org) strengthens the documentary storytelling capacity in countries where the dissemination of objective and accurate information is essential to stabilization and development. CSFilm trains local men and women in video-journalism and documentary filmmaking so that they can tell stories rooted in their reality to better influence local and international views on sustainable paths to a more peaceful and equitable world.

Comments

  1. Wow. This is incredible. I do worry about retaliation from men towards these women for appearing on camera. I hope they’ll be ok. Can someone explain to me what they are even doing with all that dirt? (Not to be Monty Pythonish about it, but I’m curious). It also really angers me that international aid is all skimmed off by the top officials. Same everywhere. And we keep forking it over. I’m not against foreign aid–I just want it to get to the people.

    • Dear Lori,

      Thank you for your comments. The women in the film are packaging soil to plant seedlings for a reforestation project. The film gives hints at the complexity of the aid situation; while it could certainly be argued that not enough aid reaches the population, there is also much misinformation. For example, while the women are complaining that they don’t see a penny of international aid, they are actually working on a work-for-cash site implemented by a prominent development organization. Another side effect of the international community’s involvement in Afghanistan are exponentially rising prices, especially in Kabul – making it more difficult for Afghans to make ends meet, as was indicated in the film.

      Several of the other films in The Fruit of Our Labor collection show locally-led development projects, run through district councils as part of the National Solidarity Program. These locally run projects – including the building of irrigation systems and clinics – tend to be cost effective and locally accepted. You can access those clips at http://csfilm.org/films/fruit-of-our-labor/#water and http://csfilm.org/films/fruit-of-our-labor/#hands .

      Thank you for your feedback and interest!

      Ali Pinschmidt
      Program Coordinator, Community Supported Film

  2. Sayed Qasem says:

    Thank you for the good comments about the death to the camera.

    • Sayed Qasem says:

      Do not forget that in this film, even the ideas of Sayed Qasem Hussein has directed the film.
      The only thing we have done for Michael Sheridan Purduscer film is all hard work and misery of the movie I’m pulling your shoulders alone.
      I feel bad for people in the West have found Because always like things that are unknown to those who take their name, I’m really sorry for you.
      Thanks
      Sayed Qasem Hussaini Director & Cinema topographer (Death To The Camera)

Trackbacks

  1. [...] The Good Men Project writes, “Stylistically, the documentary reminded me of 12 Angry Men in that the narrative thrust is carried not by scene changes but by what can result from a lack of them: a laser-like focus into a situation and the jagged edges of multiple minds trying to resolve something together. In this case, Death to the Camera shows Afghan women on a work site…” Read the rest of the article and watch the film here! [...]

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