Tell Spring Not to Come This Year
Remarkable documentary which views the Afghanistan War from the thick of the action
The fight goes on in this grunt's-eye-view of the War in Afghanistan, a documentary as unsettling as it is compelling. Set in the wake of the withdrawal of US troops, this co-directed piece from Saeed Taji Farouky (who also acts as cinematographer) and Michael McEvoy (who recorded the sound) follows soldiers of the 3rd Brigade of the Afghan National Army’s Heavy Weapons Company as they continue to battle the Taliban in their first year of fighting without NATO support.
Focusing primarily on two military personnel – Private Sunnatullah and Commander Jalaluddin – it’s a fly-on-the-canvas-wall take on life in the ANA. As this platoon of ragged soldiers take on the (unseen) Taliban forces in south-western Helmand province, they're perilously close to exhaustion point. ‘When you’re afraid, then your death is near,’ Jalaluddin says, giving his men a hollow pep talk that feels like an ominous foreshadowing of events to come.
Without wanting to sound glib, the effect of watching Tell Spring Not to Come This Year is – to borrow from the military doctrine appropriated by George W Bush – shock and awe. ‘Shock’, because of the immediacy of being placed alongside the soldiers; few films have captured the real horrors of conflict so vividly. ‘Awe’, because you can’t help but admire the bravery of Farouky’s camerawork; he darts in and around the action as bullets ricochet and mortar bombs explode.
Even the most visceral of Hollywood war movies don't come close to the effect that this film conjures, but it’s not all about battles or blood-spillage. It’s profoundly moving just listening to the men talk about their feelings towards the Americans and how Afghanistan has been ravaged since the war began in 2001 (‘Why were they treating our country like that?’ questions Sunnatullah). Factor in the final credits, which list the names of the soldiers that died during the film’s production, and the impact is remarkable. Don’t miss.
Limited release from Fri 13 Nov.