Sunday, December 5, 2010

IDFA: Afghanistan

in the end, everything is connected. It seems that way anyway, when you watch hours and hours of documentaries about so many different subjects. In the end, you keep hearing the same names, you see paterns that were never seen before and you realise that the world is smaller than it seems. There are small connections, farfetched connections and obvious connections.

In this case, it's the last one: Afghanistan. Two films, one land. The land I want to visit since I first flew over it in 2002. The land that, after seeing several documentaries about it and reading those two famous books, only seems more appealing to visit. The problem is, it's not a lot of fun. At least for a lot of people.

In The Dancing Boys of Afghanistan, an old but illegal tradition is shown. Little boys of the age of ten are, with or without the permission of their parents, are being taken by... how should I call them? Criminals, wealthy mafia, dirty old men? The boys are being trained to become dancers, are dressed up like women and have to dance for the older men. They get an 'education' and 'food and lodging', but they cannot leave. They are not allowed to go on the street without their owners - because that is what they are - and they cannot talk to the interviewer seperately in a room. They are being told what to answer to the questions they're being asked. It's scary and alarming. Beautiful boys, who have to serve people not only with their profession, but also in other ways. "Some ask for sex themselves,' says an army leader, who got rid of his own boy when he got married.

At first, you're happy that both Jabar and Zahir are not in that situation. At least, for the first minute of Addicted in Afghanistan, because afterwards you witness their heroin use for more than an hour. They lie in their houses, sit in the streets, order their sisters. But they are mostly high. With sunken eyes, they sit next to eachother. Their knees pulled up to their ears, their thin arms around their legs. They repeatedly try to get clean, but they fail every time. Their friendship brings them down. Every time, one seduces the other to take another shot. Professionally, they heat the almuinium, breath in the smoke and fall asleep.

The IDFA shows you the faces behind the small articles in the news papers, the ones you barely notice and forget about before you've turned the page. But they are there: Zahir, Jabar and all those boys that right now, while I'm writing this, are dancing like a girl in front of old men, not knowing what this night might bring for them.

The dancing boys of Afghanistan

Addicted in Afghanistan

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