[Ed. 7/21: CSFilm has removed the last names of Afghans and the images of those still in the country due to the deteriorating security situation.]
The final weeks of postproduction were packed with repeated reviews of 10 rough cuts. Four editors worked 10-12 hours a day with the directors at their side, transcribing, logging or out picking up additional footage.
Pari Gul and her son took great care of our stomachs and taste buds. (Wow, can these folks eat!) Fakhria brought her baby daughter to keep us entertained. (Afghans absolutely adore children. it was remarkable to see how that baby was passed from person to person – and how perfectly happy she was with it – no shyness or wining for mom here!).
We had to extract ourselves from our rented training center. The last few days of endless translating and subtitling was completed at the offices of our co-producer, The Killid Group, and in my room/office. No great achievements can be accomplished it seems without the requisite all nighter – so we threw that in as well.
After 5 invigorating weeks of training plus one week of polishing and subtitling, the student’s presented their ten films at a public screening. They have produced some incredible films – one would hardly know that most of them are first time documentary filmmakers. It was a wonderful and celebratory completion to a very intense experience for all, at the end of which the student’s and team where presented with certificates of completion and appreciation. A stimulating discussion between audience and filmmakers and then a dinner with most of the training team and students followed the screening.
It is extremely rewarding that we received emails the next morning from screening attendees asking if the filmmakers are available to work on projects and to submit proposals. And, the regional director from the World Bank came and was so impressed by the work that she invited all of the students to present their films to staff at the World Bank’s Afghanistan Office. (The WB is a major funder, overseer and protector of the National Solidarity Program).
We were not so successful at attracting the foreign community or the press. That said Voice of America was in attendance to gather materials for a special report that they are producing for their youth program. A big thanks goes to Jawed, who served as a trainer, for making that happen. CNN may also be working on a story.
For now, rest is needed, but I’d be thrilled if we were starting another training next week. There is no part of it from the outreach and interviewing through the hands on learning and the last great push that has not been very stimulating. Of course the company has been fantastic. We have made a great team and I look forward to the continued work together on the making of Brewing Tea in a Kettle of War.
Mehdi and Jamal were talking and one said to the other, “I can’t believe it, it’s magic – 10 films in 5 weeks – magic.” The magic has been the great energy, smarts, high spirits and unwavering determination that everyone brought to the work. Please make it all worthwhile and watch the films!