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Production Journal

Directors Alberto Vendemmiati and Fabrizio Lazzaretti spent nearly a year in Afghanistan making Jung (War) in the Land of the Mujaheddin, and Afghanistan Year 1380. Here they talk about the personal and practical challenges of filming in a country during tremendous civil strife.

POV: Afghanistan Year 1380 is the second film about Emergency and Afghanistan that you have made. What is it like to film in a developing country like Afghanistan? What are some of the difficulties you have experienced filming in Afghanistan? What is it like to film in a war zone? How do you hold your emotions back and film suffering like this?

Lazzaretti and Vendemmiati: We shot for about ten months in Afghanistan. It was interesting considering the way we reacted in such dangerous conditions, as a group and as individuals.

Time is the key when you're dealing with such projects. You need time to get people's and authorities' trust. You need to learn how to optimize your resources: finding clean gasoline for a small power generator for battery charging, getting your body used to local health diseases, getting used to be living in a place where you can be blown away any step you take.

This implies also some obliged choices such as keeping the crew as small and motivated as possible. There were only us shooting, and we've also co-produced our former film Jung (War) in the Land of the Mujaheddin, along with co-producer Lorenzo Torraca of Elleti & Company, in order to keep the budget as low as possible and gain the possibility to shoot some more time. Nevertheless, while shooting the last part of Jung we could even get a computer based editing station, and we could edit on the field with Giuseppe Petitto. This helped in getting a more detailed clue of the film's structure, while we were still shooting.

Going to the front-line is always a dangerous experience. You get there conscious of the risks you're taking, and with a bit of madness that pushes you do things you wouldn't normally even think of. You know it's part of your challenge. You obviously need luck, and fixers you can trust. We were very affected by some events, for example in the second half of the film, when the young child dies. It was a terrible event, obviously.

We worried that we were concentrating too much on suffering and sensationalizing the war. We were also hit by another feeling — the realization that we were becoming immune to it all, getting used to all the suffering. The fact that we were also building a hospital helped us stop ourselves from becoming overwhelmed by the suffering we encountered. We were doing something very concrete. That helped us a lot. We knew we could change a little bit of the reality, a little bit of the situation. We were doing more than observing.





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