BY FC EXPERT BLOGGER KEVIN LEE Fri Oct 7, 2011
Friday, October 7th marked the 10th anniversary of the War in Afghanistan, which now surpasses the length of the official U.S. military engagement in the Vietnam War. Despite its longevity, the war has receded from daily headlines in mainstream U.S. media which tends to focus more on domestic losses, from Steve Jobs to manufacturing jobs.
But after 10 years, $450 billion dollars, 15,000 U.S. casualties and tens of thousands of Afghan civilian deaths, and with a dramatic increase in violent incidents over the past year, the war should not be ignored.
To counter the irresolution and indifference, a band of filmmakers decided to bring the war back into the popular consciousness, with a new work, Far From Afghanistan. The omnibus film was organized by John Gianvito, whose also self-produced the compelling 2001 feature The Mad Songs of Fernanda Hussein. It was produced by Steve Holmgren (Putty Hill), and features the work of Jon Jost (Last Chants for a Slow Dance, Swimming in Nebraska) Minda Martin (Free Land), Travis Wilkerson (An Injury to One), and Soon Mi Yoo (Dangerous Supplement).
If the title sounds familiar, it was inspired by and pays tribute to another collective anti-war film, Far from Vietnam (1967), which brought together New Wave film innovators including: Jean-Luc Godard, Agnes Varda, Chris Marker, and Alain Resnais. The rule-breaking, socially progressive legacy of those ’60s filmmakers inspired not just the production but also the distribution of the Afghanistan film.
Faced with the reality that they could not miss an important marker of America’s longest war, its tenth anniversary this week, the Far from Afghanistan team decided to bypass conventional steps to get their film seen, such as festival submissions, funding requirements, and complicated distribution deals. They wanted to start reaching people in the most timely and effective way possible–streaming online. After an intense five-month period of planning and production, Gianvito and company unveiled their work on Thursday to commemorate the anniversary of the war.