After two decades, khaki-clad American troops are all set to leave the conflict zone of Afghanistan. The invasive war on the South Asian country that commenced in 2001 post 9/11 attacks in the USA soon became a popular theme for filmmaking in Hollywood.
People, the world over, were curious to keep up with the 'happenings' which gave birth to documentary-style, fictional, 'based on real life' kind of cinematic expression. While films like Zero Dark Thirty, Lone Survivor, American Sniper, The Hurt Locker, and most recently The Outpost continue to take the credit for screening 'war lives' of the US-Afghan conflict, International Business Times curates a list of lesser-known gems that choose to tell the story another way.
1. Day One (2015)
Henry Hughes' Oscar-nominated short film Day One takes inspiration from the life of a real war interpreter. The 25-minute film tells the story of Feda, a recently divorced Afghan-American woman who goes to Afghanistan as an interpreter for the US Army. On her first day on the job, while helping the soldiers find a terrorist in the hiding, she finds herself struggling with an inner conflict of helping a pregnant Afghan woman deliver a child on the battleground. While the film is mostly fictional, it does draw inspiration from real-life incidents that happened during Henry Hughes' tenure as a US Army paratrooper in Afghanistan.
2. The Tillman Story (2010)
Directed by Amir Bar-Lev, The Tillman Story is a documentary based on the life of American footballer Pat Tillman who joined the US Army to serve in the Afghan war. However, his death in 2004 during service turned controversial when it is found that he wasn't killed by the Taliban as reported, but lost his life in an accidental friendly fire on the ground zero. Nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, it won the best documentary title by the San Francisco Film Critics Circle, the St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association, and the Florida Film Critics Circle during the year of release.
3. The Hornet's Nest (2014)
The Hornet's Nest is a documentary by David Salzberg and Christian Tureaud that follows two war correspondents, father-son duo Mike Boettcher and Carlos Boettcher, who decide to accompany US Army troops sent on a mission to one of the most hostile valleys in Afghanistan. What starts as an effort made by a father to reconnect with his son, turns into a fight for survival as the initial three-day mission turns to an intense nine-day battle. The documentary also focuses on the emotional side of the troops and how soldiers react for real to the longest war in American history.
4. The dancing boys of Afghanistan (2010)
The controversial documentary made by Afghani journalist Najibullah Quraishi talks about the practice of using young boys as entertainers in Afghanistan. The 52-minute documentary created ripples across the United States as many investigative reports revealed that US soldiers posted in Afghanistan were asked to look away from this heinous act of child slavery and prostitution and not report it outside.
5. The Messenger (2009)
Directed by Oren Moverman, starring Ben Foster and Woody Harrelson, The Messenger focuses on the lives of the US Army's Casualty Notification Officers who are given the tough task of giving the tragic news to the kins of deceased soldiers. The film received much appreciation from its critic and audiences alike, for bringing to the fore, lives of unsung heroes, serving off the war zone.