Afghani film to screen at three film festivals

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MUMBAI: Hashmat Khan an Afghani by birth and a Bollywood film actor in 1980’s and 90’s has now written, directed, produced, and acted in Afghanistan’s first commercial film – Spring of Hope.

The film will be screened at the International Film Festival of India (IFFI), Third Eye Film Festival and South Asian International Film Festival, after which he plans to release the film around December in India, America and Europe, but not in Afghanistan.

“Afghanistan is a very small market for commercial films. There are only 21 cinema halls in Kabul and not more than 50 cinema halls in the whole of Afghanistan. With highest ticket rate being Rs 25, it will take years to recover my money,” says Khan.

“Piracy of films is a very big issue in Afghanistan. Pirated prints of movies are available in the market one day after the release of the film. In fact this is also the reason why Bollywood films are not released in Afghanistan, although we are so fond of watching them. Afghanis land up watching pirated versions of these films in cinema halls,” he adds.

His film Spring of Hope has been shot entirely in Afghanistan and the post production has been carried out in Mumbai, due to lack of equipments in Afghanistan. But nonetheless, the filmmaker has made his film a dolby digital one and has also incorporated nine minutes of computer graphics and animation in a particular war sequence.

The film has been made with a budget of Rs 20 million (Rs 2 crore). The Afghanistan government subsidized costs for majority locations, soldiers, army tanks, bullets and helicopters. “The defense ministry and the home ministry extended full help to us. In fact when we shot for 11 days at some of the most dangerous locations, Estalef and Salang Valley, there were many soldiers guarding us,” he says.

After screening the film at festivals and releasing it in theatres, Khan also plans to release DVDs of the film in India, America and Europe. He plans to open the first academy of cinema in Afghanistan in March – April next year with an investment of Rs 20 million (Rs 2 crore). Khan also has readied three feature film scripts and 10 subjects for short films.

Spring Of Hope is inspired from a real life incident and is about two people belonging to different Afghani communities, who meet at the university and love each other for 14 years. The film begins with the Russian invasion on 28 December 1979 and ends with the fall of the Taliban in 2001. The film conveys message of National Integrity of Afghanistan. The language of the film is Persian and Pashto – with English sub-titles.