Wednesday, May 2, 2007

San Francisco International Film Festival

Why didn't anybody tell me it would become this bad in Afghanistan?

Sundance Kabuki Cinemas

Presented in Association with the San Francisco International Film Festival

Told through the eyes of a traumatized Dutch soldier who has returned home from a tour of Afghanistan, Why didn’t anybody tell me it would become this bad in Afghanistan? documents the brewing tensions between native Dutch citizenry, immigrant youth and the police in a small square in the heart of Amsterdam. In this decidedly experimental work, shot almost entirely with a cell phone video camera, these tensions are made palpable through a process of accumulation. Scene after scene of youths gathering, police detentions and aimless protests are lensed from a claustrophobic, subjective viewpoint. The film also happens to be the first feature-length work shot on a cell phone to screen at the Rotterdam International Film Festival, making it the first such work to premiere at any international festival of prestige worldwide. In itself, this represents a major accomplishment, but more importantly it recharges the first-person narrative with startling intensity. Director Cyrus Frisch uses the qualities of the cell phone-its degraded video quality, its mobility, its unique cultural standing as both a public and private tool for communication-to imbue his film with themes of intense subjectivity, alienated paranoia and the immediacy of documentary. Frisch notes, “There is a lot of fear about war, the environment and the economy, and this is projected onto something smaller that we can cope with, like immigrant kids in our streets. But, at the end of the day, I think it is understandable and even healthy that we feel insecure about our future.”