“Shadow of Afghanistan”
A Conflicted Country
We have certainly been hearing a lot about Afghanistan lately but I am sure that none of us have heard what we see in Academy Award nominees Jim Burroughs’ and Suzanne Bauman’s amazing documentary. “Shadow of Afghanistan” is a look at the country through the eyes of an Afghan warrior and through the eyes of some independent journalists who died while covering the story. The directors actually spend more than 20 years looking at the Soviet occupation of the country, the rise of the Taliban, the exiles of those who were hurt in Soviet mines, a civil war, the rise of Al-Qaeda and the invasion by the United States. We find Afghans who have remained loyal to their country and still plan on surviving there.
We really do not know much about Afghanistan aside from what we read in and see on the news. As Americans, we have witnessed a country which appears to be constantly in a state of change and with no remembrance of its past. We do know that the situation is complex and that seems to be enough for us.
The directors began filming in Afghanistan over 20 years ago and they are aware of the changing political nature of the country. We see here the complexities of politics, culture and religion and how these have been lost in the news about terrorism. We learn here about how the Soviets came to occupy the country and that the CIA financed Mujahedeen, how five million refugees were exiled, how any were harmed by working in Soviet mines. We become more aware of the civil war fought in the country and how regional warlords arose and of the alliance between the Taliban and Al-Qaeda came to be and eventually caused the invasions by NATO and United States armed forces.
There were over 100 hours of film that were cut down to make this documentary. There are interviews with experts on the country and we see how they see things over a 20 year period. This is such an impotent film and even more so for the Muslim community because they have been so misunderstood and maligned since 9/11 and we see that just as the United States experienced terrorism that day so did Afghanistan.