We are very excited to announce that, beginning October 23, 2013, all ten shorts from The Fruit of Our Labor will be featured on Daazo.com – The European Short Film Centre. For one month, all of the films will be available to watch, comment on, or “like” through Daazo’s website.
Daazo.com is a short film sharing site supported by the MEDIA Programme of the EU that hosts several thousand contemporary shorts. Alongside these recent films, Daazo presents old classics that are not available elsewhere on the Internet. Daazo creates opportunities for cinephiles to watch regular film premieres, follow or take part in film competitions, and find out about short film news and updates.
CSFilm is enthusiastic about Daazo’s mission and hopes our partnership will further open viewers’ eyes to the power of local perspectives in film.
The documentary shorts show aspects of life in Afghanistan that are not often covered in the Western media: Water Ways chronicles one village’s struggle to obtain clean drinking water.
“We all have to demand an improvement in our news diet. A balanced diet that’s less self-centric, that includes more local perspectives, will really help us be better informed, and therefore, more effective citizens.”
On April 13, Michael Sheridan, an alumnus of Connecticut College, spoke at this year’s TEDxConnecticutCollege conference about Community Supported Film’s experience bringing local perspectives from Afghanistan to the U.S. through documentary filmmaking. Michael’s talk, entitled “Transforming News and Views through Local Perspectives,” compares U.S. mainstream media coverage of Afghanistan with local Afghan stories to show the unbalanced state of the Western news diet. By highlighting this imbalance, Michael demonstrates a need for both perspectives in order to create sustainable solutions for ourselves and for Afghans. Watch Michael’s TEDx talk here and/or read the highlights below:
It becomes clear that news stories have the capacity to both help and harm people once you ask who is telling the story, why they are telling it, and how it influences the general public. In the case of mainstream media coverage of Afghanistan, which focuses on “war-centric” stories and stories that are most relatable to Americans, the Afghan perspective is lost, subsequently harming the Afghan people.
In his talk, Michael compares photos and videos from The New York Times and Frontline with videos produced through Community Supported Film’s trainings in Afghanistan to show the way in which the mainstream media’s perception of Afghan issues does not accurately reflect the daily problems that the Afghan people are facing. Instead of focusing on warfare and violence, the locally produced videos emphasize issues with water, illiteracy, and drug addiction. Michael states that more Afghans are killed by water issues than insurgents and that 87% of Afghans believe that men and women should have equal access to education. Those are shocking statistics for those who only see Afghans in Western media portrayed as violent and discriminatory towards women.
“American reporters…and the American news industry [in general] are telling the story of our news in Afghanistan and not necessarily the news from Afghanistan.”
Through his TEDx talk, Michael Sheridan proves that telling the news from Afghanistan can only be accomplished through a balanced information diet of both mainstream and local perspectives, thereby highlighting the importance of the Community Supported Film mission.
TEDx events are locally organized gatherings held in the same format as the well-known TED talks. These events bring leading thinkers and doers together to share what they are most passionate about.
The theme of this year’s Connecticut College TEDx event was “On the Shoulders of Giants,” which highlighted the power of collaboration and the insights gained from a historical perspective.
Watch the video conversation with Afghan civil society leaders to discuss the US-Afghan Strategic Partnership.
“The strategic partnership between Afghanistan and the United States…is not just a military agreement. It’s a guarantee to the achievements of the past 10 years that Afghanistan has made together with the assistance of the international community…in the areas of economic empowerment, economic prosperity of Afghanistan, fighting terrorism, legislative reforms…[and] women’s rights.” – Mohammad Hamid Saboory, Master’s degree consultant to Kardan University in Kabul
“What we need from the U.S. is that insurance…that there is help for us. If it’s not soldiers with guns, it’s political…[and] economic support that will help us maintain ourselves in this region.” - Sami Sadat, Director of Strategic Communications at Afghanistan’s High Peace Council
“The idea of a political transition and an economic transition to go with, and frankly overshadow, the military or security transition is really important, but it’s a conversation that is largely lost in Washington.” - Matt Southworth, Foreign Policy Legislative Associate for the Friend’s Committee on National Legislation
“I don’t believe [there will be] any civil war after 2014 and…it’s because we’ve got a different society. The difference between now and the’90s…is that now, when Americans are talking about the withdrawal, at the same time we are talking here about the emergence of a civil society.” – Abdul Waheed Wafa, Executive Director of the Afghan Center at Kabul University
Read the highlights from the conversation here and follow us on Twitter at @CSFilmOrg.
Broadcast live from Kabul, this conversation will address security issues from an Afghan perspective, with:
Sami Sadat, Director of Strategic Communications at Afghanistan’s High Peace Council
Abdul Waheed Wafa, Executive Director of the Afghan Center at Kabul University
Mohammad Hamid Saboory, Master’s degree consultant to Kardan University in Kabul
Matthew Southworth, Foreign Policy Legislative Associate for the Friend’s Committee on National Legislation
Moderated by Peter Lems, Program Director of Education and Advocacy for Iraq and Afghanistan at the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC). Full bios below.
This is the second discussion in a six-part series, taking an in-depth look at various aspects of the Strategic Partnership, with a specific commitment to hearing directly from Afghans. Watch the first conversation here!
Over the course of the series, topics will include economic development, the role of UN agencies, regional dynamics, and the US military presence. This video dialogue series will highlight the important issues Afghans face in the coming years.
A strategic partnership is right now being negotiated between the governments of Afghanistan and the United States. At stake will be the number and type of U.S. forces after 2014, whether those forces will have immunity from Afghan law, what type of access they have to bases in the country, and the focus of financial assistance the U.S. will provide in the future.
These are fundamental questions for Afghans, and will dramatically affect their future and their country’s stability and development.
Because the US involvement is overwhelmingly military, we rarely hear about the goals of Afghan civil society and the type of relationship they would like to see with the U.S.
Join us for an on-going series of conversations looking at the key issues for Afghans. This dialogue will include what security looks like for Afghans, the regional dynamics of an on-going US presence, the need for assistance that supports civil society initiatives, and the broader question of accountability.
To submit questions to discussion subjects before or during the conversation, contact the moderator Peter Lems at .
Bios of Participants:
Mohammad Hamid Saboory
With over ten years of international experience and solid educational background, Mr. Saborry is currently working with Kardan University as a consultant, developing Master’s Degree programs for the institution. Before joining Kardan University, Mr. Saboory was the Country Director for the Montreal-based NGO Rights & Democracy. Prior to that, he worked as the Acting Director of Strategic Communication at the Presidential Palace in the Office of the National Security Council. Mr. Saboory worked in Germany, the USA, Canada and Afghanistan over the past ten years. He delivered lectures and presentations on Afghanistan in many conferences and at prestigious universities across Asia, Europe and North America. Mr. Saboory is a graduate of Law Faculty from Kabul University, and has two Master’s degrees from New York University and Syracuse University. He is also a regular commentator and analyst on international affairs for media outlets such as the BBC, Al Jazeera, CCTV, TOLO NEWS and TV1.
Mr. Sadat has worked as Deputy Director for Strategic Communications and as policy advisor to the Minister of Interior in Afghanistan. He currently works as Director of Strategic Communications at Afghanistan’s High Peace Council. He is also a member of a youth policy advisory group, Afghanistan Analysis & Awareness. Sadat has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and a master’s degree in Strategic Management and Leadership from the UK Chartered Management Institute. Sadat has also studied Advance Command at Staff College at the UK Defence Academy from where he graduated with highest distinction.
As a US army veteran and activist, Mr. Southworth serves as the Foreign Policy Legislative Associate with FCNL – The Friends Committee on National Legislation. While in the US Army in 2004, Matt Southworth served a tour of duty in northern Iraq, near Mosul. His experience in Iraq motivated him tobecome an anti-war activist. Southworth was eventually led to a quaker college. Southworth graduated Magna Cum Laude from Wilmington College with a BA in Political Science and History. He works on Afghanistan policy and drone issues on Capitol Hill, and motivates young adults around the country to get involved in lobbying. In 2011, Southworth organized a fact-finding mission to Afghanistan comprised of Congressional staff, journalists and non-profit leaders. The delegation discovered a number of urgent policy changes needed, and reaffirmed the fact that the U.S. military strategy has failed to deliver peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region. Southworth serves on the Board of Directors for Veterans for Peace.
Abdul Waheed Wafa
A native of Kabul, Afghanistan, Mr. Wafa has worked as a reporter for the New York Times’ Afghan bureau and also helped run the bureau from 2001 to 2009. In 2011, Waheed joined the Afghanistan Center at Kabul University as the first Executive Director. Waheed is working closely with ACKU’s founder Nancy Hatch Dupree. Waheed has a Bachelor’s degree from the Faculty of Law and Political Sciences of Kabul University. From 2010 to 2011, he was a Nieman Foundation fellow at Harvard University where he studied leadership, democracy and communications. Waheed is a frequent commentator about national and international issues on Afghan media.
Peter Lems is the Program Director of education and advocacy for Iraq and Afghanistan at the American Friends Service Committee. He is also the co-coordinator of the Wage Peace campaign, a program initiative that seeks to wage peace with the same determination and energy that nations wage war.
The American Friends Service Committee carries out service, development, social justice, and peace programs throughout the world. Founded by Quakers in 1917 to provide conscientious objectors with an opportunity to aid civilian war victims, AFSC’s work attracts the support and partnership of people of many races, religions, and cultures.
Did you know that Culture Unplugged hosts film festivals online free for all to see? Watch The Fruit of Our Labor: Afghan Perspectives in Film on Friday, May 17th at 11:30PM EST on Culture Unplugged.
In an effort to transcend isolation and ignorance, Culture Unplugged focuses on producing and promoting films that are socially sensitive and culturally conscious. Their mission is to nurture and spread enlightening films, fostering a strong sense of community on a local and global scale.
The Fruit of Our Labor is a collection of 10 short documentary films made by 10 Afghans during a training conducted by Community Supported Film in the fall of 2010. These character-driven shorts highlight the complex daily realities of contemporary Afghanistan, while also showing the agency and capacity of Afghans to solve their own problems. The films bring a much-needed local perspective to the debate about the immediate and long-term future of Afghanistan.