Farouky & McEvoy: Tell Spring Not to Come this Yea

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 After more than a decade in the country, the NATO troops have withdrawn leaving the job to fight the enemy, the Taliban, to ANA, the Afghan National Army.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.

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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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