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Old 10-17-2009   #1
M Payson
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Default "Son of a Lion" opening in UK - a glimpse at Pakistan's tribal ways

"Son of a Lion" will open in the UK on November 6th. Fascinating glimpse into Darra Adam Khel, bordering Pakistan's tribal areas.

‘This is one of my favourite films ever’- David Kilcullen, author of The Accidental Guerrilla


Screening Venues and Dates:
  • Glasgow Film Theatre: November 12th followed by Q&A by director Benjamin Gilmour- www.gft.org.uk
  • Additional Screening dates and venues TBA

In Pakistan’s tribal weapon-making village of Darra Adam Khel, a young Pashtun boy Niaz Afridi defies his father’s expectation to carry on the family’s gun making business and demands an education instead. Son of a Lion is the feature film debut by Australian film-maker Benjamin Gilmour.

The idea behind Son of a Lion was conceived while Gilmour was working as a set nurse on ‘The Bill’ and ‘Murphy’s Law’. After being turned down by major UK media corporations to produce the film, Gilmour elaborates on his unique experience- “I ended up in the wilds of tribal Pakistan and was befriended by ethnic Pashtuns facing aerial attacks from US drones and ground attacks from their own army. While sheltered by the locals and constantly pursued by secret service and the military, a local clan collaborated with me to make this film at a great risk to their own lives. The original script for Son of a Lion changed remarkably as numerous Pashtuns contributed to make it a story of their own, a story they are desperate for the world to hear. It is without a doubt the first feature film of its kind, written and directed in close collaboration with the Pashtuns themselves.”

Comprising of a cast of newcomers, Son of a Lion has drawn critical acclaim at international film festivals and is a 2008 Independent Spirit Award Winner. With its focus on groundbreaking and innovative films from South Asia, Mara Pictures is proud to present the film to audiences in the United Kingdom. “Son of a Lion is exactly the kind of film that audience across the world need to see in today’s political climate – it provides invaluable insight on a region that is continuously under attack,” says Roopa Saini, Head of Acquisitions for Mara Pictures.

“As the UK struggles to make headway in Afghanistan and frustrations about the militants in Pakistan increases, an insight into the Pashtun mindset is timely. Through this story of a boy resisting his traditionalist father and breaking away to embrace the idea of education, we are able to realise that true change is only possible from within,” states Gilmour.

“Son of a Lion” packs emotional punch and engaging political discussion’ - Richard Kuipers, Variety

‘This gritty drama affords rich insight into little-documented aspects of life in the wake of the Afghanistan conflict. The film features strong, relaxed acting across the board...’ - Jonathan Romney, Screen

‘This is one of my favourite films ever’- David Kilcullen, author of The Accidental Guerilla

For further information please contact:
Sanam Hasan, Head of Marketing and Public Relations, Mara Pictures
sanam@marapictures.com

Roopa Saini, Head of Acquisitions, Mara Pictures
roopa@marapictures.com
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Old 11-13-2009   #2
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Default Guns, guns, and more guns - Guardian review

Here's a short review of Son of a Lion http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2009/...-a-lion-review. It's a gem, in its own quirky way.
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Old 11-14-2009   #3
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Great job! Next, the producer should convince someone with birds or stars on his/her shoulders to buy the Afghan distribution rights, burn the darn thing on a DVD and send it from village to village with a large white sheet, a projector, laptop and power source... don't forget speakers. Possibly a great opportunity for a budding pashtun movie mogul and an even greater opportunity for NATO to deliver it's message without being heavy-handed. Besides, everyone likes a good story.

M Payson, what's your involvement with this project?
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Old 11-14-2009   #4
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Default Use the film in Afghanistan

Jarod,

I've emailed a friend who visits SACEUR, so they can pick-up your suggestion and perhaps MEH can do the same in DC (PM'd him). Melissa is in the UK for another week, PM her and she'll pick up the question.

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Old 11-15-2009   #5
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David, thanks a lot for getting the ball rolling on this. I will definitely go ahead and PM Melissa. The ability of the people on this board to get things done never ceases to amaze me.

Film Trailer on YouTube
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Old 11-15-2009   #6
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The trailer looks good. Why isnt this DVD already in Afghanistan and Pakistan?
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Old 11-15-2009   #7
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My guess would be that the producers/distributors are trying to make as much money as possible by showing it in western theaters before releasing it to DVD. Because once it's on DVD, any chance for additional revenue will be lost to piracy.
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Old 11-16-2009   #8
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Originally Posted by JarodParker View Post
Smith and Wesson 9mm? Looks like a Colt .45

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Great job! Next, the producer should convince someone with birds or stars on his/her shoulders to buy the Afghan distribution rights, burn the darn thing on a DVD and send it from village to village with a large white sheet, a projector, laptop and power source... don't forget speakers.
Why? Why would you do this? How do you know most folks wouldn't side with the father against the child? OK. Nice story. So what?...and I see no reference to an Afghan writer? I may be wrong but wasn't it actually written by Ben Gilmour? If I was the local Taliban, that would be reason enough to dismiss it.

Not being cynical, but SWJ is about war and warfare. Maybe an excellent film, and I wish it luck, but I cannot see how this film changes anything in a practical sense or is relevant to us here on SWJ.
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Old 11-16-2009   #9
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Default Well, it was...

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Not being cynical, but SWJ is about war and warfare. Maybe an excellent film, and I wish it luck, but I cannot see how this film changes anything in a practical sense or is relevant to us here on SWJ.
Then it added political and social commentary. Still more professional than any other I've seen. Thus far...

To which I'd add that no Film has ever added much to the pursuit of anything -- except for the provision of some fairly good one-line quotes.
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Old 11-16-2009   #10
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Default Knowledge, security, etc.

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I cannot see how this film changes anything in a practical sense or is relevant to us here on SWJ.
I think it's relevant to SWJ folks because Pakistan's tribal areas are deeply relevant. And there's not much exposure to or working grasp of the area among the people who need it - in both the military and humanitarian fields - including those who are based in country. Three Cups of Tea is a valued resource for the same reason.

In terms of changing anything in a practical sense, probably no - on ground initiatives and contact are the best way to do that. But we haven't mastered that yet for FATA. Fingers crossed, we're devising more subtle ways to interact than drones. The options are out there, and gaining a nuanced understanding is useful. So again, perhaps Son of a Lion can contribute something.

Per showing the film in Pakistan, that's being discussed now. There are some local security concerns for the participants, given the volatile environment at the moment.

Last edited by M Payson; 11-16-2009 at 02:33 PM. Reason: Security...
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Old 11-16-2009   #11
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I think it's relevant to SWJ folks because Pakistan's tribal areas are deeply relevant. And there's not much exposure to or working grasp of the area among the people who need it - in both the military and humanitarian fields - including those who are based in country. Three Cups of Tea is a valued resource for the same reason.
Always true in most parts of the world. No argument there... and the movie?

Quote:
Per showing the film in Pakistan, that's being discussed now. There are some local security concerns for the participants, given the volatile environment at the moment.
If that is the case, then this really annoys me. Films are made to make money and provide entertainment. That's why this one got made. I'm am/was a novelist. No one "needs" to tell a story to the extent it risks life.

I think the entertainment industry needs to stay out of this stuff.
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- The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
- If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition
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Old 11-16-2009   #12
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Why? Why would you do this? How do you know most folks wouldn't side with the father against the child?
Doesn’t matter if some or most of the folks side with the father, at least it opens up the dialogue.

Quote:
OK. Nice story. So what?...and I see no reference to an Afghan writer? I may be wrong but wasn't it actually written by Ben Gilmour? If I was the local Taliban, that would be reason enough to dismiss it.
There’s a 10min CNN piece, in the “related videos” box on youtube, which explains how the film was made. The story was written in collaboration with the villagers… this is a story about them told in their own voice. The main actor (the father) is a Pashtun-Afghan refugee, there’s some reference to him being a mujahedeen against the soviets. The rest are Pashtun from the Pakistani side.

Quote:
Not being cynical, but SWJ is about war and warfare. Maybe an excellent film, and I wish it luck, but I cannot see how this film changes anything in a practical sense or is relevant to us here on SWJ.
Call me a bigger cynic but this film has as much a shot as changing things as anything else we’re doing over there. There’s been several comments on this board regarding the need for more IO (not sure if that’s the correct term) such as establishing NATO friendly radio stations and etc. I don’t see this as being any different except maybe having just a tiny bit more credibility for being made independently.

One of the men in the CNN piece even talks about watching Rambo 3 a long time ago and enjoying it because “the heroes were Mujahadeens.” Good stories, whatever the format, usually present an argument or a lesson. They are also great for propaganda; whether it’s X-men comics reflecting the civil rights movement in America, or Capt America going to war against the Nazis or a court jester subtly pointing out the king’s follies. This film is not going to change anything over night but since we’re mostly likely in it for the long haul, the seeds we sow today might bear fruit years down the road.

As far as the entertainment people getting involved in these things, I’d say, better with us, than against us.
The Beast

Sorry I can't post the CNN video, b/c my work blocks youtube.
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Old 11-17-2009   #13
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The story was written in collaboration with the villagers… this is a story about them told in their own voice. The main actor (the father) is a Pashtun-Afghan refugee, there’s some reference to him being a mujahedeen against the soviets. The rest are Pashtun from the Pakistani side.
OK, and how is that relevant to someone 300km away in Helmand -with an entirely different set of problems. As concerns strategy, we don't want the Pashtun to debate. We want them to comply with our intent. Why risk them coming up with the wrong answer. We are fighting their to force our ideas upon them.
Quote:
Call me a bigger cynic but this film has as much a shot as changing things as anything else we’re doing over there. There’s been several comments on this board regarding the need for more IO (not sure if that’s the correct term) such as establishing NATO friendly radio stations and etc. I don’t see this as being any different except maybe having just a tiny bit more credibility for being made independently.
What most folks simply don't get is that you can do all the IO and propaganda you like, but it all comes apart when a local authority figure has a simpler more compelling message. The Taliban's ability to kill you, trumps all the message stuff. IO is a paint job on a fast car. It doesn't make it go faster. The CIA had it right in 1956 when they said "Psychological Operations target people with an existing pre-disposition."
Quote:
One of the men in the CNN piece even talks about watching Rambo 3 a long time ago and enjoying it because “the heroes were Mujahadeens.” Good stories, whatever the format, usually present an argument or a lesson.
I've watched American movies all over the Middle-East and North Africa with rooms full of Arabs. None of them changed the basic way they thought of America. The Israelis make lots of movies about their conflict with the Arabs. The Lemon Tree being one. It changes nothing and even I would dispute it's accuracy.
Films hold far more power to distort than they ever do to tell the truth. Are 911 Conspiracy Documentaries ever going to change anything?
Quote:
As far as the entertainment people getting involved in these things, I’d say, better with us, than against us.
The Beast
....silly movie and not a good story.

If people want to make money, making movies, good luck to them, but it is about making money. Nothing wrong with that. I see nothing more here than film makers promoting a film - maybe even a good one.
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- The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
- If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition
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Old 11-17-2009   #14
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As a US citizen, I know that lack of understanding has damaged my nation and cost us considerable "treasure and blood," as the blogs say. It continues to do so, for example, as we justify the use of drones in part because we think we have no other choice. This is ignorance. (My own metric for my security services is number married into tribal families. It's the best way ). So I think it's vital for those with policy, operational, or other influential roles in Afghanistan and Pakistan to understand the context to the fullest extent possible. Thankfully (finally), my senior-most leaders recognize and are putting enormous effort into addressing this.

Perhaps we agree up to this point, with the possible exception of the marriage metric?

Now, onto the film. It's a simple one (I doubt it will launch into the financial big time, but not my concern). It won't make a massive difference. But it's accessible and local, where we have so few resources. With a fair number of years in war zones, I've learned to be open to as many sources of information and learning as possible and to challenge my own assumptions (danger things, assumptions). This has stood me in good stead working with the people of Logar, Khost, and North Waziristan. Like learning that three cups of tea are essential in a part of the world that poses a mortal threat, there can be value in watching a family come to grips with a kid who wants an education instead of making guns. This is consistent with my interactions with many in the region.

…By the way, some of the other resources we rely on are quite inadequate. And this one probably cost us taxpayers a lot. http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/worl...0927-g7r5.html
...The American reads the critical paragraphs from the computer: "The Zadran have been written up as a small tribe, but they are the biggest in the south-east. Their manners resemble the Waziris [who straddle the nearby border with Pakistan] and the Kharotis [also concentrated in the east], from which we may infer that they are utter savages. They live in small villages … they are great robbers and their country was a refuge for bad characters."
Anyway, enough ink expended – I agree that SWJ denizens have more important things to do.
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