A Flickering Truth


Pietra Brettkelly

2015 | 91 mins
Country of Production: New Zealand 
Country Featured: Afghanistan 
US Premiere | Director in Attendance
Friday, October 14 | 9:30 pm | Program F11

Afghanistan has a long and complex history of film and filmmaking. The establishment of a National Afghan Film organization in 1965 precipitated a cinema boom that generated countless treasures that lasted until the rise of the Taliban. Because of the art form’s association with Western culture, the Taliban regime outlawed filmmaking and attempted to destroy the nation’s existing catalogue of cinema. Meet a small entourage of brave Afghan cinephiles who have hidden and preserved thousands of hours of film footage, both drama and documentary, that would otherwise be lost forever. Led by Ibrahim Arify, who was jailed for filmmaking under conservative rule, the archivists continue to face threats from radical Islamists for their efforts. Witness a story of devotion to film and a beloved cultural history.

Co-presented by Rooftop Films, the Afghan American Artists and Writers Association, and NYU Moving Image Archiving and Preservation Program


Re:Frame, My Perspective

“In making my film A Flickering Truth I worked over a two-and-a-half-year period in Afghanistan. I am a white New Zealand woman approaching a film in a conflict zone in a Muslim country, a film that encompasses the filmic history of a country that has been invaded, occupied, affected by many other countries over centuries. I had to tread very carefully as I approached this film, that I didn’t seem like another foreigner wanting to plagiarize the Afghan people for the good of my career.  

And while there were a couple of times I was caught in unstable situations and conflict, I had to constantly remind myself that I come from privilege and possibility, I hold a passport and can leave, I have access to money. So apart from how I wanted to be careful how I represent the Afghan people in my film, I also needed to be careful how I conducted myself generally.  

But the overriding intent of my film was to show a people that I had encountered when I first went to Afghanistan in 2006: a resilient, welcoming people who as subjects in my film for the first time in my career never judged me over my right to tell this story, as a foreigner and a woman. I hope audiences see the openness and trust that was gifted to me, and the power of the story I was able to tell, one of a people just like us in the West but caught in decades of war, a people who cherish their culture and history and the films that are the vessel of that culture.”

—Pietra Brettkelly | Director, A Flickering Truth