One of the cities that’s frequently suffered the brunt of Afghanistan’s numerous armed conflicts is the setting for “Generation Kunduz.” Interesting docu takes a look at five young residents trying to carve out lives despite continued violence and the country’s uncertain political future. Fest and tube programmers focused on developing nations and human rights issues will take a look.
The German-funded film starts out by noting an incident that made Afghanis once again dubious about the virtues of foreign intervention: In Sept. 2009 a German military officer ordered an attack on two fuel trucks, resulting in 90 deaths, mostly civilian. Primary emphasis, however, is not on policy or destabilizing events, but rather on five protagonists.
Youngest among these is Mirwais, an energetic lad of 12 at most, who largely supports his family shining shoes for an average daily wage of $1.30. That doesn’t go far, as food prices continue to rise despite foreign aid. Nazanin likewise provides a major chunk of her family’s earnings working for a women’s radio station that resists fundamentalist ideology by openly discussing issues such as women in the workplace and sexual harassment.
Agricultural science student Hasib is a democracy activist seen training official observers for elections in which a large number of votes are still often rigged. Some voters are threatened with the severing of a finger by Taliban forces if the digit is seen bearing the telltale sign of a poll visit’s ink stain.
Dandyish Ghulam and his female producing partner Khatera are making an independent feature film, a difficult endeavor given Afghanistan’s near-nonexistent movie industry; they must find a lead actress in Kabul because no one closer will sign on — filmmaking is considered a disreputable occupation by many. Ultimately, as up to date as Ghulam and Khatera seem, the best they manage for the premiere of their film, “Soni & Sadaf,” is to screen it on a bedsheet in a community room in broad daylight.
Given that only Mirwais is an ordinary working stiff here, the others being involved in especially forward-looking pursuits, “Generation” doesn’t really offer a representative cross-section of average Kunduz lives at this latest transitional moment in history. But it’s still enlightening, particularly when casually noting things like the fact that any kind of protest remains extremely risky if not downright impossible in the current sociopolitical climate.
Pic is well shot and solidly assembled.