“A Flickering Truth” is an interesting look at Afghani culture through the embattled medium of film.
Most of us don’t have to imagine a world without movies. It’s just one of the many luxuries we’ve grown accustomed to and take for granted. In other parts of the world, the story is not the same. In Afghanistan for example, they don’t have to imagine a world without film, they are living it. I found it quite shocking that you’d be hard fought to find a place in the entire country that shows films. The Taliban, among their long list of crimes, have made it a goal to destroy as many films as they can. As a result, the only films that remain are the ones that were hidden or left to decay.
Pietra Brettkelly’s film follows several filmmakers as they attempt to recover and restore thousands of film reels that were left in disrepair after decades of war and unrest. The film takes place in the much war torn Afghani Film Archive. Much of these film reels were Afghani films about the country before American and Russian influences as well as Afghani culture. Pietra directs this film beautifully as he juxtaposes the beautiful visions of Afghanistan of the early and mid 1900s compared to the Afghanistan of today. He does a good job of portraying film as a preserver of culture, like a time capsule you can open whenever you want. Their journey to save these films, dating back as far as 1927, is an interesting one to watch.
The film at times moves a bit slowly. Although it’s a little over an hour and a half, it does a feel a little too long. Scenes, especially in the first quarter of the film feel prolonged. As the film progresses, it gets a little repetitive as well. These little things take away from the film, but at the end it is still an interesting watch. It’s very nice to see such a humanizing perspective on those of the Middle East. Seeing the eyes of children and adults alike light up after seeing film for the first time in their lives surely is something. This is a great documentary about how far people will go to preserve their own culture.