You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Kabul Transit

Spare, unsentimental and uncompromising, David Edwards' and Gregory Whitmore's "Kabul Transit" trains a lens on a spectral range of inhabitants in Afghanistan's capital in 2003. Most comparable to the recent doc "Iraq in Fragments," and infinitely more successful, this is a picture of a city in fragments, without intro, commentary or visual aid.

Spare, unsentimental and uncompromising, David Edwards’ and Gregory Whitmore’s “Kabul Transit” trains a lens on a spectral range of inhabitants in Afghanistan’s capital in 2003. Most comparable to the recent doc “Iraq in Fragments,” and infinitely more successful, this is a picture of a city in fragments, without intro, commentary or visual aid. A tone of quiet despair hangs over the open-ended film, which should find strong support in sophisticated doc fests and even snare the odd network buyer or two. Chances of linking with more conservative U.S. broadcasters are nil.

Edwards, a tyro filmmaker, anthropologist and expert on Afghanistan at Williams College, and vet filmmaker/editor Whitmore, with Afghan-born producer Maliha Zulfacar, ventured to Kabul in 2003 with the idea of taking in various aspects of Kabul sans pre-set agenda. With Edwards’ somewhat distanced, anthropological manner of filming akin to French doc pioneer Jean Rouch, Whitmore as editor opts to build the film by showing each part of the city, and seldom revisiting it, creating a sort of Cubist effect for the viewer.

Early scene of kite-flyers leaves the impression that this may be a light, human-interest pic, but darker aspects take shape. A NATO airbase is the setting for an officer whose duties become almost comically mundane. An elder insists on giving a young man an amulet as a way of warding off “the evil eye” and helping his car work. Moneychangers work amid dusty conditions in which stacks of bills tower around them, while their biggest concern is counterfeiters. Young women at Kabul U. complain female lib is a distant hope with the current Hamid Karzai government.

More slices of the city come into view, including a police officer who complains he’s being punished for enforcing the law “too well”; a karaoke bar; Canadian troops helping to build a drainage system in a poor, hillside neighborhood; a dedicated French schoolteacher; and a local medicine man who discusses why Afghan men seldom live past 60.

Such an approach may seem downright revolutionary to some doc fans, but the pic’s style is much in accord with the norm for current Euro and Asian documaking, where polemics takes a back seat if it has a place at all. Lensing under arduous conditions is superb, lending the pic a bigscreen presence.

Kabul Transit

Production: An Akbar Taxiwan Films presentation. Produced by David Edwards. Co-producers, Gregory Whitmore, Maliha Zulfacar. Directed by David Edwards, Gregory Whitmore.

Crew: Camera (color/B&W, DV), Whitmore; editor, Whitmore; sound, Whitmore. Reviewed at Los Angeles Film Festival (competing), June 27, 2006. (Also in Full Frame, Amsterdam Documentary festivals.) Running time: 88 MIN. (Pashtu, Farsi, Russian, English, French dialogue)

More Film

  • Franco Zeffirelli Remembered

    Franco Zeffirelli: An Artist and a Paradox

    When popular artists pass on, it can often be a surprise to learn just how old they were. But the news of Franco Zeffirelli’s death, at 96, inspired a major double take. The extravagant Italian maestro of theater, opera and film lived to a vibrant old age. Yet for many of us, the name Zeffirelli [...]

  • Evan Tanner, Professional mixed martial arts

    UFC Fighter Evan Tanner Biopic ‘The Power of 1’ in the Works (EXCLUSIVE)

    Producers Christopher Scheimann and Olcun Tan have partnered with top sports director Bobby Razak on “The Power of 1,” a feature biopic of UFC fighter Evan Tanner. Co-written by Scheimann and Razak, the movie is slated to go into pre-production toward the end of this year, with principal photography planned for early next year. Tanner, [...]

  • The Grove Introduces Drive-In Rooftop Movie

    The Grove Introduces Drive-In Rooftop Movie Theater Level 8

    The Grove is ringing in summer with a new rooftop movie theater. The popular Los Angeles shopping mall, located between Fairfax and La Brea, announced today the launch of their new cinema experience titled Level 8 Drive-in, which will kick off with a screening of “Grease” on June 26 and will run through September. Inspired [...]

  • China, Shanghai Exhibition Centre, Soviet-style Facade

    Shanghai: China Market 'Has Always Been a Turbulent One,' Says Infotainment Chief (EXCLUSIVE)

    Movie sales and distribution company Infotainment China comes to the Shanghai International Film Festival optimistic about Chinese audience trends, but gloomy about current business conditions. “The market is bad and industry players are very pessimistic. I just hope it doesn’t get worse,” said Infotainment CEO Cindy Lin, though she noted that such periods of trouble [...]

  • Billy Eichner Power of Pride Variety

    Billy Eichner on the Homophobia He Still Sees in Comedy and Hollywood

    On “Billy on the Street,” Billy Eichner has made a name for himself running up and down Manhattan’s sidewalks, ambushing clueless New Yorkers and interrogating them about pop culture. A brash physical comedian, Eichner has no qualms about asking perfect strangers embarrassing questions, hectoring pedestrians about their willingness to have a threesome with Jon Hamm [...]

  • State of Pride Full

    How Hollywood Is (and Isn't) Getting Better at LGBTQ Inclusion

    Brandon Flynn, one of the breakout actors from Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why,” has spent the last two years fielding questions about his personal life. In 2017, he wrote a passionate post on Instagram, advocating for an Australian vote that allowed for same-sex marriage. Soon enough, news sites such as HuffPost and E! News were reporting [...]

  • Prince Mohammed bin Salman Abdulaziz al

    Saudi Crown Prince Should Be Investigated Over Khashoggi Killing, U.N. Report Says

    Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, should be investigated in connection with the killing of Jamal Khashoggi because of “credible evidence” that the prince is among those liable for the dissident journalist’s death, a United Nations report said Wednesday. While no “smoking gun” has yet been found that directly incriminates the prince [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content