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Volume 19 Issue 50 | April 27 - May 3, 2007

A Downtown Express Special Supplement

Tribeca Film Festival 2007

Corbis

“Taxi to the Dark Side” takes a look at the Bush administration’s policy on prisoner interrogation practices.

Another side of Afghanistan

By Rania Richardson

The specter of the Taliban may have receded from public consciousness since Sept. 11, 2001, but Afghanistan is front and center at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in three documentaries, a drama and an experimental feature shot with a cell phone. According to the Tribeca Film Festival’s Executive Director, Peter Scarlet, a period of relative calm in the firestorm last year gave filmmakers an opportunity to shoot there, and now those films are complete and ready to be viewed.


Taxi to the Dark Side

Directed by Alex Gibney (USA)
World Documentary Competition

Alex Gibney, director of the Oscar-nominated “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room,” now takes a look at the Bush administration’s policy on prisoner interrogation practices. From a village in Afghanistan to Guantanamo Bay to the White House, the film examines the history of U.S.-sanctioned torture by way of a murder mystery that uncovers the events of an innocent taxi driver in Afghanistan who was detained, tortured and killed by American soldiers in 2002.


Beyond Belief

Directed by Beth Murphy (USA)
World Documentary Competition

In early April Susan Retik and Patti Quigley appeared on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” to discuss how the death of their husbands on flights that crashed on 9/11 motivated them to create a charitable organization to help widows in Afghanistan. Beth Murphy’s new film traces the journey of these two mothers from their affluent Boston suburbs to Kabul, to share a common grief with women whose husbands also died tragically. For two years, the single mothers devoted themselves to making a difference in the lives of a people whose oppression and poverty they believe is an underlying cause of terrorism.


Postcards from Tora Bora

Directed by Wazhmah Osman and Kelly Dolak (USA)
Discovery Section

Co-director Osman is an Afghan-American New Yorker who sets off for Kabul to learn about her homeland and document her family’s history, following the 1979 Soviet invasion. In her quest, she discovers that the father she thought abandoned her stayed behind to defend his country while his wife and family fled to safety in the U.S. This personal film is the first feature-length for both directors.


Zolykha’s Secret 

Directed by Horace Shansab (Afghanistan)
Discovery Section

Zolykha is the intuitive youngest daughter of a rural family struggling to survive the brutal last years of the Taliban regime, in the first Afghan-produced drama since “Osama” from 2004. Spirits from the past appear to the young girl as her family tries to rebuild their home in the mountains. Director Horace Shansab was a National Geographic cinematographer before returning to Afghanistan to train new filmmakers and direct this first feature.


Why didn’t anybody tell me it would become this bad in Afghanistan?

Directed by Cyrus Frisch (Netherlands)
Showcase Section

Shot entirely on a cell phone, filmmaker Cyrus Frisch created a video diary intended to convey a traumatized Afghanistan war veteran’s observations of a threatening world.

The feature-length experimental film uses extended, low-resolution sequences and is virtually dialogue-free. The Dutch filmmaker graduated in 1992 from the Netherlands Film and Television Academy.





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