When I saw this video, I was inspired by Sam French. While most of us are affected by war stories, very few of us are able to do something to bring about a change, no matter how small. Sam French is a person who is trying to do just that. He has been based in Kabul, Afghanistan, since 2008. He has founded Development Pictures in Kabul. He has spent the last four years in Kabul, producing and directing documentaries for diverse clients including the UN, DFID, the EU, CARE International, Channel 4, CNN, PBS, and Current TV. When he visited Afghanistan for the first time purely by chance, he was quite taken in with the country. There was complexity and beauty and images that never got conveyed by the media to the foreign world. His company was founded to especially cover positive war stories and also content that was unrelated to war. He found that these were normally not being utilized by the media till then. So, he partnered with the NGOs and the government agencies that were doing some very exciting work on the ground and had loads of stories to tell – good, positive stories of rebuilding and development. So, that is what he has been focusing on since then.
He felt that there were so many powerful stories that were waiting to be told but were not due to lack of resources or interest of the existing media. That laid the foundation for setting up his venture. Since then, Sam has been actively striving to bring Afghan stories to the forefront. He is also trying to revive the film and documentary industry in Afghanistan. His company helps in doing videos and documentaries for the NGOs and government workers; he has done a documentary for the British government recently. He has also been instrumental in setting up Afghan Film Project that provides infrastructure and support to budding filmmakers in Afghanistan.
Last year, he finished filming the Buzkashi Boys at location in Kabul. They also trained 12 Afghan interns who have now moved to various jobs in the film industry. He believes that a thriving film industry helps the country and economy at large. Films are a powerful medium to reach out to people and to interact and connect with the the outside world.
He has enjoyed living in Kabul with all its complexity and challenges. There are these little stories of hope and survival and generosity that he sees every day. His mission is to bring these stories out. He particularly was touched with the hospitality of the locals while filming for Buzkashi Boys in an old neighborhood of Kabul. His company is currently working with and training high school kids in film and documentary making.
Do watch the entire video above to know more about Sam’s dreams, aspirations and hope while he lives in Afghanistan.
For all my stories on Afghanistan, see my webchannel here.