They’re there for many reasons. Penury, patriotism and peace are three of the biggest. But as the soldiers of the Afghan National Army fight for their place and a sense of identity, so they are at war with a poisonous ideology that is deeply rooted in their own land and its people.
The camera captures the daily routine and tedium, the boredom, the suspicion, the confusion, the fear of the soldiers. This is an army abandoned, left half-trained by its former American patrons and with an officer class that is wholly unprepared for the enormity of the task that faces it. That overwhelming sense of frustration and disorder is portrayed via the thoughts, words and emotions of the men on the ground. As in the First World War, this is an army of lions led by donkeys.
But the lack of direction – or the war that engulfs them – cannot be blamed on the Afghans themselves. Maybe the donkeys are the politicians of the gung-ho administration that declared their war on terrorism – only to walk away from it. As in all conflicts, it’s the people that suffer.
Saeed Taji Farouky, Michael McEvoy, Tell Spring Not to Come This Year, Soda Pictures, available on DVD.
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