Egyptian documentary maker Ibrahim Nash’at travelled with a camera and an interpreter to Afghanistan in 2021, just days after the U.S. Army withdrew. He came to see, as he puts it, in whose hands the country had been left. He gets permission to follow a Taliban commander who has taken over Hollywoodgate, claimed to be a deserted CIA base. The Taliban is in the process of transforming itself from a guerilla movement into a military regime.
What’s the best way of working under the control of an organization like this, one that sees you as a pawn for their propaganda? This film’s answer is to capture those seemingly trivial moments that serve to puncture that image—of an absurd inspection of abandoned gym equipment, and of a night-time military operation during which Nash’at is told to wait at the side of the road. Rather than stopping filming, he points his camera at the moon and records the sounds of gunfire in the distance, undermining the Taliban narrative without downplaying its dangers. A complex tightrope walk performed with great verve.