“Though I don’t have any children,” says John Gianvito, “I imagined a child someday saying to me, ‘You regard yourself as a political filmmaker, did you do anything during the longest war in U.S. history?’”
Gianvito, the Boston-based director of the acclaimed feature The Mad Songs of Fernanda Hussein, recalls this thought coming to him earlier this year as the 10th anniversary of the U.S. war in Afghanistan approached. On Thursday, October 6, in honor of that day of infamy, Gianvito and a team of filmmakers will unveil an ambitious omnibus project to raise awareness about the enduring conflict.
Still a work in progress, Far From Afghanistan: The October Edition (pictured) will premiere on-line for one-week only to coincide with the anniversary, both to help accelerate political resistance to the war as well as help boost funds for the project’s Kickstarter campaign. As of September 26, the project was far short of its $25,000 goal, raising only about $5,300.
Gianvito conceived of the project earlier this year, galvanized by several factors: a 2010 Pew Research Study which stated only 4% of U.S. media made any reference to the war, despite the fact that it was the war’s deadliest year and a talk he attended in March with female Afghan activist and legislator Malalai Joya and Noam Chomsky. “Listening to Joya’s impassioned and cogent assessment of the situation was the last step in making manifest that I had to do something,” he says.
At the time, Gianvito had been deeply ensconced in his four years-in-the-making Vapor Trail, a large-scale documentary about the legacy of the U.S presence in the Philippines. However, he says, “my conscience was prodding me more and more.” He realized he would have a tough time making an October deadline, and came up with the idea of an omnibus project as “a way to create something more than a short film and to build a stronger base of solidarity around the issue,” he explains.
Inspired by the 1967 French documentary Far From Vietnam, which includes nonfiction entries from Jean-Luc Godard, Agnes Varda, Alain Resnais, and Chris Marker, among others, Gianvito compiled a list of about 25 U.S. filmmakers, because as U.S. citizens, he says, “We bore the lion’s share of the responsibility.”