Pakistan

Shooting in the Shadow of the Taliban

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Sounds like a hell of a picture:

F for fake

the documentary opens with the siege of the Red Mosque. Documentary film-maker and artist of various sorts George Gittoes is there shooting video with a second cameramen. An attack helicopter circles overhead and shots are heard in the background. Pakistani soldiers sit relaxed and sip tea. George Gittoes moves quickly through the street with his camera. He is then suddenly hit by automatic gunfire and falls to the street, bleeding out.

End of documentary? Not really. He staged that part. He stages a lot throughout the documentary, blending fiction with the even stranger surreal reality of Pakistan. He starts to focus on the movie making scene in Peshawar and finds out that he can make two movies for $7000. So he does. And he caters them to local tastes. One is a comedy that includes two little people portraying Musharraf and Bush. The other is a revenge-romance action movie featuring a Sufi-warrior and himself as the bad guy. He mixes scenes from these movies, including the "making of," into the documentary….

Many of the areas Gittoes filmed in eventually fell to the Taliban. He returns the next year and the DVD kiosks selling dramas and "other entertainment" are gone, replaced with jihadi snuff films. Gittoes buys a sampling: screaming men and boys in beards growling indecipherably as they cut off the heads of pathetic looking victims whose arms are bound behind their backs. The movie scene is dead. No drama, no comedy, no song and dance, no porn, no art…just snuff films.

The movie is called The Miscreants of Taliwood, and its official site is here. I'm not sure it could possibly be as good as it sounds, but I can't wait to find out for myself.

[Hat tip: Bryan Alexander.]