Over the weekend, in Hyde Park, I received a flyer from a gentleman of indeterminate age. He was dressed in a garb unfamiliar to me. In his hand, he carried a strange device that, I later learned, recorded his words and deeds for his followers.
When he approached me, I was hesitant. And I tried to hurry myself around him. Yet, something in his eyes arrested me, as I slowed down and extended my hand to receive his flyer. He smiled and said, I have long planned our meeting, here. I nodded my head, as in agreement, though I had no comprehension. I didn’t read the flyer, stuffing it in my pocket, and wiping my fingers on my trousers. The ink left a small stain.
He briskly walked away before another word came out of my mouth. And I continued on to mine home.
I have read the flyer and found it to be an inspired work. I attach it below for my gentle readers. Perhaps I will try and find my new acquaintance, once again.
Thanks to Moacir, I watched the documentary Kabul Transit. Eschewing the usual talking heads approach – or even much of a linear narrative at all – it allows us to follow some people in Kabul for short periods of time. An entrepreneur, some government officials, some Canadian force members of NATO-ISAF, a yunani physician, some Kabul University students, either tell us directly what they think, what they remember and what they see in Kabul or we learn it from their conversation with others.
It is a powerful work, though it takes a while before you sink into that world and I am undecided on whether the lack of narration and the lack of some explicit structure hurts or help. As someone who knows a little bit more about the history and languages of Afghanistan, I was soon immersed but the people I was viewing with had a harder time contextualizing what was on the screen.
In the Director’s Statement, David Edwards concludes: “Kabul is an ancient city in which one is continually made aware of how the past shapes the present and intimates the future. History in the film had to seem to emerge out of psyche and experience, as it does when one lives in a place. We vowed not to impose a history upon the place as is done so often in many documentaries…Our goal was to allow insight to emerge out of experience, to reveal rather than describe, and to listen rather than speak.”
Well, sure. I agree. But, there are happy mediums. Since the documentary is indeed geared towards US audience, I don’t see any good reason not to, at least, locate their audience. Tell them what year it is, or why we only see Canadians giving out shovels and building sewage, or how much history lies buried in the rubbles of Kabul. As it is, the people remain nameless even – we only learn their names in the credits – and their personal histories unknown, except for those that share them. The camera obscures far more than it ever reveals.
In any event, it is something that you should try and catch. You can buy the DVD at their site. There are some clips that didn’t make the cut, and best of all, here is Alexandr Rozenbaum’s amazing Monolog Pilota – set to the best sequence in the whole documentary.