Previously at the ICA - Films
9 Sep 2016
A Q&A with director Pieter-Jan De Pue follows the screening
By turns disturbing and uplifting, Belgian ex-Red Cross photographer Pieter-Jan De Pue’s film is a hybrid, combining documentary footage shot in Afghanistan over seven years with dramatisations of events that were clearly impossible to film at the time. The majority of his narrative shifts between American troops—trying, somewhat unconvincingly, to assure villagers that although they are pulling out, the Taliban oppressors can still be thwarted—and a group of young orphans led by the charismatic and resourceful Gholam Nasir.
Nasir and his comrades deal in spent bullets, recycled tank parts and opium, their fierce communal loyalty starkly contrasting with the foreign soldiers’ attitudes towards the Afghans they are nominally protecting. Strikingly shot in Super 16mm, the film has an occasionally dreamlike quality that belies its philosophical punch.
The Land of the Enlightened, dir. Pieter-Jan De Pue, Belgium/Ireland/Netherlands/Germany/Afghanistan 2016, 88 mins. English, and Persian with English subtitles.