Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Powerful documentary on NZ military in Afghanistan poses tough questions

AWARD-WINNING filmmakers Annie Goldson (Brother Number One, An Island Calling), and Kay Ellmers (Canvassing the Treaty, Polynesian Panthers) present the feature version of He Toki Huna: New Zealand in Afghanistan.

It will be screened - full-length - for the first time at the New Zealand International Film Festival on Sunday.

Originally airing in a broadcast version on Māori Television, the film has been extended adding substantial more content.

Following non-embedded journalist Jon Stephenson into Afghanistan, the documentary discusses the role and legacy New Zealand troops have played in that beautiful war-torn country.

Revelations have surfaced that Stephenson was spied upon by US agencies while he was working in Afghanistan, and that as an investigative journalist, he was called a "subversive" by New Zealand's own Defence Force gives the film a currency - even urgency - begging the question of what the role of the media is within our democracy.

Using a range of Kiwi and Afghan voices, He Toki Huna asks why New Zealand became involved in the war, why it stayed so long, and why the public have learned so little.

He Toki Huna challenges the rosy picture presented by most media reports, which have side-stepped the realities of combat and death in a conflict that has dragged on for 10 years.

Jake Bryant's footage captures the extraordinary landscapes of Afghanistan.

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