McEVVOY/FAROUKY: TELL SPRING NOT TO COME THIS SPRING
The Docs & Talks festival in Copenhagen screens this excellent film saturday night at 17.45, followed by a debate, at the Film House, Cinemateket. Two years ago I made this review of the film:
I have been there before. Danish director Janus Metz went to the Helmand Province in Afghanistan to make ”Armadillo” about ”our” soldiers on mission. After more than a decade in the country, the NATO troops have withdrawn leaving the job to fight the enemy, the Taliban, to ANA, the Afghan National Army.
The mood of the Afghan soldiers is quite different than the one of the Danish soldiers, who (until they end up in a real battle) saw the trip, one of them puts it like that, as like going to play a real football match after long training and preparation. Quite different, a true understatement, because what you get in the impressive film by Saeed Taji Farouky and Michael McEvoy, shot over a period of one year, is an insight to a situation that seems to be without any hope and perspective: an army with soldiers, who have no respect for the politicians or for what the NATO troops achieved, an atmosphere of depression, they have not been paid for months, they see the local population as stuck between taliban and the government’s army. No actual way out.
The filmmakers have wisely chosen to have a focus on two – the
captain Jalaluddin and private Sunnatullah. Their remarks are mostly put off-screen, their reflections are mingled with fine observational coverage of the soldiers in the camp, playing cards, playing football, before they are called to action. And action you get in the film! It is amazing how close the filmmakers go – as said by the young soldier: we were told that the Sangin battle would last 24 hours, it ended up being 45 days… It seems like the filmmakers were there for the whole time.
It’s a total inferno, soldiers are heavily injured, you see that, you see the fear in the eyes of soldiers, you see and hear the desperate call for help given by the captain – and you go home with them to the camp to understand that several had died. For what, you think, because the film makes you think so. The two protagonists have hopes for a good life, for peace, but on what fundament can they build their hope?
As a film ”Tell Spring…” is excellently crafted. The camerawork (mainly done by Farouky) is amazing, there is a narrative flow in the story, a respect for the protagonists, an ability to show the conflicts in the army and to the society, carried gently by fine music composed for the film. No wonder it won the Panorama Audience Award at the Berlinale as well as the Amnesty International Film Award.
UK, 2015, 83 mins.