Community finds voice in first Afghan Police Film Festival

23 May 2012

image“Najjat” is the award-winning film in the animation category of the Afghan Police Film Festival.

Kabul - Sixteen short films by award-winning Afghan filmmakers depicting the efforts and triumphs of the police force as well as citizens’ expectations and aspirations for law and order in Afghanistan competed in the country’s first ever Police Film Festival, held in Kabul 16-20 May.

The Festival was a joint initiative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Afghanistan Ministry of Interior to show films representing the points of view of children, youth and women. The short films competed in the categories of documentary, animation and fiction. ,

Michael Keating, the UNDP Resident Representative and Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Afghanistan, said the Festival had opened space for a dialogue among the police, the public and the creative artists on aspects of security that went beyond conflict and violence. "Security is also about being protected from crime and injustice, and about being able to turn to people you can trust to help you,” he said.

Between screenings, festivalgoers were invited to participate in a series of televised discussions and debates with filmmakers, civil rights activists, members of parliament and police leaders. The Festival provided a space for thought, reflection and dialogue among various section of society on issues on the minds of citizens on aspects of their safety and security in Afghanistan.

"The Festival has breathed new life into the creative discourse in Afghanistan,” said Festival Director Alexandra Meyer noting that the festival engaged several well-known names and young and upcoming professionals in Afghan cinema.

“The films have served to open a window into the daily lives of policemen and made the public familiar with the often hard realities of the lives of those that protect the citizens.”

“Saboor: Kabul's Uncle Traffic," an eight-minute documentary by director Sultan Mahmoud; “Solitude,” a three-minute animation by Saeed Mohsen; “The Proposal,” a 19-minute fiction film by Mohammad Husseini; and “Finding Zalmay,” a 13-minute fiction category entry by Hasib Namizadah were screened at the launch ceremony. The Festival films were screened in venues throughout Kabul from 16 to 20 May.

Mahdi Bakhtiari, the director of “Najjat”, the award-winning film in the animation category, expressed the hope that this Festival was not the first and the last one for Afghan film-makers to participate in. “These festivals will help the filmmakers to inject new life into the frozen body of Afghanistan‘s Cinema. This will help us to reflect on the many cultural aspects of our country”, Bakhtiari observed.

For the Law and Order Trust Fund (LOTFA), the Film Festival represented an innovative and inclusive advocacy approach towards a more participatory police-community interaction using films as a medium of community conversation. In close partnership with the Media Affairs Directorate of the Ministry of Interior,

LOTFA engaged the creative community of Afghanistan through an event management firm that was given the remit to organize the Festival. The LOTFA support is based on promoting the Community Policing concept consistent with the National Police Strategy. Support was provided for production and dissemination of 15 films for the competitive part of Festival.

The winning entries will be broadcast on various national television networks
LOTFA was established in 2002 to boost security in Afghanistan by training the Afghan National Police. One of its major accomplishments has been to increase the number of police officers paid through a direct electronic fund transfer system. From 2007 to 2011 the number of electronic payments jumped from 700 to over 100,000—an extraordinary achievement in the context of Afghanistan that helps to significantly reduce the risk of fraud.

The total number of female police officers has increased to more than 1,300, and UNDP has trained 1,700 government officials at the Ministry of Interior in systems and processes for financial management, accountancy, human resources, administration, latest payroll and funds transfer technologies.