This is an arresting, nuanced and urgent documentary…
Since Bush declared ‘Mission Accomplished’ as Western forces withdrew from Afghanistan back in 2003 the Afghan National Army have been continuing the fight alone. Not that you would know it considering how under-represented they are and how misrepresented their voice has become. This documentary gains its power and its urgency from that lack of coverage, letting the Afghan soldiers talk without a Western filter; there is no voice-over shaping the film in any sense, no foreign soldiers are on display here. You feel, as much as is possible in a documentary, that you are being given access to a genuine Afghan voice as they talk about the conflict which has consumed their lives for over a decade.
This is a grim film in which the often unpaid soldiers go from deadly situation to deadly situation, low in morale and spirit. Which isn’t to say that their humanity doesn’t shine through; we gain some degree of access to their personalities and lives during the course of the film and the camera’s intimate approach helps further bring us into the world in which they live. It’s a brave film, not only for the situations the filmmakers put themselves in, but because it doesn’t try and add context to this group of individuals. It doesn’t try and tell us how to view them or what they are doing but simply gets stuck into the daily goings on and lets the men fighting the war talk for themselves.
It’s an important film, helping to readdress certain balances and giving us all a much needed view into the world the West left behind 12 years ago. It’s a film that challenges you, frightens you and leaves you with a shed load of questions and thoughts to mull over once the credits role. But for all of the political debates it can raise about war, ideology and the West’s role in the Middle East, what comes through clearest is the personality and humanity of those fighting in the Afghan National Army.
Tell Spring Not to Come This Year opened in select cinemas in the UK on the 13th November. Will you be checking it out? Let us know in the comment box below!