Award-winning film looks at Afghanistan

Documentary portrays ongoing war, life under Taliban rule

Posted: Friday, October 12, 2001

Children are interviewed in the dusty streets of bombedout towns and women pull their heavy chadors off their heads to talk about life in modern Afghanistan. Soldiers pause with their AK47s and rocket launchers to explain their struggle against Russia a decade ago and against the Taliban today.

"Jung (War): In the Land of the Mujahedin" is a new documentary that looks at life in war-torn Afghanistan. The film will show at 7 p.m. Sunday at the Juneau-Douglas High School auditorium. The free event is sponsored by the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council and Human Rights Watch International.

Afghanistan has been at war for more than 20 years. More than 1.5 million people have been killed, and about 4 million refugees have fled.

Refugees and international aid workers are interviewed in the two-hour documentary, which was filmed almost entirely in Northern Afghanistan in 1999 and 2000. The main opposition to the Taliban government, the Northern Alliance, cooperated with filmmakers and provided the crew of Italian journalists with access to the front lines of combat.

The film looks at the efforts of an Italian surgeon and humanitarian activist to establish a hospital in northern Afghanistan. The hospital serves the region and employs local Afghans.

The film includes interviews with land mine victims detailing the realities of living in a country with more than six million mines. Captured Taliban soldiers also are interviewed in a prisoner of war camp.

Lisa Blacher of Juneau was instrumental in bringing a videotape of the documentary to Alaska. She has a close friend in Manhattan who serves as the director of the Human Rights Watch International Film Festival. Her friend, Bruni Burres, provided the documentary free of charge.

"Jung: In the Land of the Mujahedin" was featured at the New York-based film festival and was awarded the $5,000 Nestor Almendros prize for outstanding contribution to human rights awareness.

The documentary contains scenes of combat and surgery, and parental discretion is advised. "Jung" is in Italian, English and Afghani, with subtitles.

Riley Woodford can be reached at

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