News Summary:   The documentary clearly reveals that members of the Taliban are indigenous from the province, whose ranks do not comprise foreign fighters.
Date: 14/07/2018      Time: 16:36
Refrence: Misagh Cultural Center                

The documentary clearly reveals that members of the Taliban are indigenous from the province, whose ranks do not comprise foreign fighters

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F. Michael Maloof | Former Senior security policy Analyst in the office of defense Secretary
Mohsen Eslamzadeh has directed a masterful documentary called "Taliban" which offers a never before seen life of this Sunni jihadi group as they operate in Afghanistan''s Helmand Province. At considerable risk to his own life, Elamzadeh offers riveting insight into how the Taliban function as a group as they seek to turn Afghanistan into the Islamic Emirate. It''s even more remarkable that an Iranian director would be given such access by the Taliban which is no friend of iran. Yet, the Taliban commanders gave Eslamzadeh such access in response to the documentary he did on iran''s favorable treatment of its Sunni minority. 

In rare interviews with top Taliban conmanders who gave him access because of this favorable portrayal, it became clear that the Taliban members seek only to govern their region but restore Afghanistan to a very strict construct of Shariah Law. The documentary clearly reveals that members of the Taliban are indigenous from the province, whose ranks do not comprise foreign fighters. The documentary doesn''t offer a solution of how to get past what has turned into an intractable war in a deadly competition to win the hearts and minds of the people. Nor, was it meant to. 

"Taliban" portrays the daily lives of these fighters. It is a must-see snapshot that shows a determination by local people to survive and fight to live their way of life. This determination comes notwithstanding the continuous bombardment of their villages and countryside by US and British forces on behalf of a shaky government they installed and that have traveled half a world away to prevent the Taliban from exercising their way of life.

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J. Michael Springmann | Former head of the American visa bureau in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
This is a documentary not to be missed. It is an arresting, engaging, first-person narrative of Mohsen Eslamzadeh''s two weeks living among the Taliban. It includes interviews with some of the group''s rank and file along with people living in Taliban-controlled areas. It''s also an account of the narrator''s efforts to seek meetings with the organization''s leaders. 

The photography is stunning, showing the rugged landscape and the robust people living in it. Shot in high-definition color, the film uses close-ups and long-shots as well as interiors to picture a country and culture few outside Afghanistan have ever seen. In it are a wide array of disparate subjects, such as a visit to a prison and conversations with some of the inmates as well as Taliban training. Additionally, the film documents proceedings before an open-air law court, with the judge adjudicating local disputes, such as an overturned truckload of chickens.

Eslamzadeh''s personal feelings and comments are also recorded, giving a human dimension to the work. He notes that he had to buy Afghan clothing to better blend in with the people he would be mixing with. At times, he said he was scared of the Taliban, commenting that he wasn''t sure that their jokes about shooting him weren''t in earnest. The auteur mentioned restrictions placed on him and his camera, such as being required to shut down the filming or requiring him not to show certain people. 

While the spoken word is in Farsi, Pushtun, and other tongues, there are comprehensive English subtitles. This enables the film to be shown widely. And it should be shown widely. The picture''s natural audience is anyone or any group, particularly those in Europe and North America, seeking an understanding of the Taliban and Afghanistan. 

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Dr. Paul Larudee | political activist who is a major figure in the pro-Palestinian movement
The most dedicated and courageous journalists and filmmakers undertake assignments not because they are easy but because they are hard (to borrow a phrase from John F. Kennedy). Mohsen Eslamzadeh''s documentary "Alone among the Taliban" is exemplary of this kind of excellence and integrity. It is a behind-the-scenes account that goes deep into the heart of Taliban society and Taliban country. It is unique because I doubt that anyone else has done anything like it.

It is remarkable to watch the filmmaker and his subjects repeatedly build confidence during the course of the film. The Taliban and the villagers reveal themselves in unexpected ways and provide Eslamzadeh surprising access to their leadership. Of course, they are cautious not to allow him to film anything that could be used by their enemies, and all of the fighters make sure to cover their faces during filming and not to allow filming of sensitive sites. Otherwise, they are actually quite open with the filmmaker, especially on a personal level.

The result is therefore a stunning accomplishment that puts a human face upon these warriors and provides viewers with a sense of understanding about who they are and what drives them. We see bits of disagreements, humor, hospitality, and pathos. This is a film deserving of the many awards it has received and many more.

Samu Tomas | Hungarian Politician, former MP
Thank you for the documentary movie. It was very interesting and has a good atmosphere  for that topic: fear of fear, the feel of loneliness among the Taliban, and the show the everydays of Taliban.

Mr. Eslamzadeh was very brave for make this movie there in that circumstances. The best part for me when the Taliban leader talks about the aids, and the camera shows the poppy fields.

The hard presence of the US-lead soldiers (balloon and helicopters, etc) near the Talibans was surprised me.

But do not just say good, in my opinion, for an average viewer a movie needs a little bit more pace/tempo. But it depends on the viewers habitat.

Jurgen Cain Kulbel
For more than ten years no foreign film crews were allowed to visit the Taliban terrorist group in Afghanistan. But the story of the Taliban has been told all over this time in movies and books and news. At the center of the description was always and mostly the Taliban’s brutality or gratuitos sadism. 

In 2016 the Taliban granted Mohsen Eslamzadeh their confidence: This led the Iranian filmmaker to a 15-day stay among them in Afghanistan. Eslamzadehs 65-minute documentary „Alone among the Taliban“, that illustrates his stay, is completely different from all what we believe to know about the terrorist group. 

From the opening moments of this film you know you are in for something different from any other film that ever came out about the Taliban. Quietly he describes his journey to forbidden places in the well photographed film. He talks to the Taliban about the opium harvest and the money they earn. He goes to their training camps, films the recruitment of proud young Taliban fighters and is allowed to film a Taliban special force. He speaks carefully with the common people, conducts interviews with members of the Fatwa council and with Mullah Gol Agha, the senior member of the Taliban leadership council. 

Some film shots look like excellent photographed portrait photos. The pictures are breathtaking. Each scene could also be printed as a picture in a book. The fantastic pictures, the neutral comments draw the viewer into the movie, he himself becomes part of the adventure of being among the Taliban. 

There is a key scene where the ideas of Eslamzadeh and the Taliban collide: The Taliban, probably aware of its tarnished global "reputation", offered the filmmaker: “If you want, we can attack the headquarters of the army camp tonight to make your movie more attractive.“ Eslamtadeh answered: „My camera is looking for the life not for the war.“ 

At this point, he probably won their trust. And it''s refreshing what comes next, something we do not get to see about the Taliban. And especially important: Eslamzadeh encounters the Taliban with respect and they honored that, opened up their world to him: we see not only Taliban bristling with weapons, we see Taliban laughing in the movie, we watch how they start to give their trust to the filmmaker, start to feel that they are people like us with needs and that they want to build a kind of functioning society. 

At the end of the film the astonished spectator remains as astonished as Mohsen Eslamzadeh. Many questions remain open ...

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