Pietra Brettkelly, New Zealand, 2015, not rated, 91 mins
The fourth feature-length offering from New Zealand documentary filmmaker Pietra Brettkelly is her most ambitious project yet. A Flickering Truth follows charismatic filmmaker Ibrahim Arify as he returns from exile to his native Afghanistan with the intention of restoring thousands of hours of Afghan films for the nation.
Film was outlawed by the Taliban government, and although they have now been deposed their threat remains, particularly in the continuing suicide bombings in Kabul. Arify’s task is not easy and his frustration is immediately felt as he struggles to unearth reels of film – some literally dug out of collapsing barns, and others hidden in ceilings and discovered by pure chance. He must also deal with a workforce often too scared to act after so many years of oppression.
As the project slowly comes to fruition, the importance of his work hits home: a collection of newly restored films is toured around the country, and rows and rows of spellbound faces – many seeing film for the first time – experience their own country’s rich artistic culture and history.