How did you come to the story?
It was a hot day in May more than three years ago in Kabul and I was interested in finding out what had happened to Afghan filmmakers – people like me – during these decades of conflict. There was talk of a slightly mythical place where the films of Afghanistan were stored away but no one really knew what was there. So I decided to investigate.
I walked miles through Kabul, and was stopped often by security police to check my passport. I noticed there were a lot of helicopters in the air and soldiers on the ground that day, I felt a lot of tension, more than usual. I wondered if a suicide bomb had gone off that morning. The police kept telling me I couldn’t go into this high security area but I persevered and pushed through, sweating under my heavy layers of clothing, only my face showing.
Eventually I made it to the front gates of Afghan Film, the country’s archive collection. Initially I was turned away by the gun-toting security guards, but I pulled out the line, “I’ve come all the way from New Zealand to see your films”.
Finally someone came out and said okay, come and meet Ibrahim Arify, our new director who’s been employed to try and transform the archive and save the films.
Ibrahim agreed to me making a film on the rediscovery of what was in these sheds: the films that had survived the wars, the Taliban, the harsh conditions of Afghanistan. He said, “Let’s discover them together.”
It’s a privilege to have the career I have, to love every day and be following my passion, the stories that interest me, to remote locations and people. So nothing stops me from that – but yes its becoming more difficult. A Flickering Truth is my fifth documentary, so my reputation helps investors, funders and philanthropists feel confident I will deliver.
I appealed to family and friends who believed in this story, as well as to traditional funders. The film received support from the Film Commission and other organisations, including Doc Edge, the Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund and Sundance Institute.
I also became a jewellery seller – I held 13 jewellery parties of the most exquisite Afghan jewellery designed and made in Kabul through a wonderful initiative that insisted that 50% of the students and workers must be female.