The White Review and Film and Video Umbrella (FVU) have announced the fifth installment of ‘White Screen’, a new online initiative to showcase artists’ film and new writing.
Produced in 2003, two years after the American-led invasion of Afghanistan, the film tells the story of a film crew that sets out to visit the Panjshir Valley in the north of the country. Described in classic Persian poetry as a ‘paradise garden’, the impenetrable nature of the valley and its lush, fertile landscape have set it apart from the rest of Afghanistan and encouraged a history of independence and resistance. The film crew are unable to access the valley, however, and ‘Ariana’ becomes both the story of a failed project, and a reflection on how the specificities of a landscape help to determine its history.
In response, the American author and journalist Jen Percy has written ‘Checkpoint’. Drawing on her own experiences as a war correspondent in Afghanistan in the winter of 2013, as American troops were preparing to withdraw, the piece reflects on the implacable borders – cultural, physical, geographical – that endure in the war-torn country. Jen touches on the history of failed, at times bizarre attempts of foreigners to understand (not to mention colonise) Afghanistan, with a particular focus on the Pashtun tribe: ‘a people who have, like the landscape that shaped them, resisted outside influence.’