Documentary filmmaker Ben Anderson was in our studio Monday where he discussed his takeaway from the front lines in Afghanistan. In his reporting, Anderson shadowed three different battalions of NATO forces over the course of four years. He documented his experiences in his new book, No Worse Enemy, which draws from the more than 300 hours of footage he captured during his time there. Much of that footage was even used in a documentary he produced for HBO in 2010, The Battle For Marjah.
Both documentary and commercial filmmakers have used our ongoing conflicts in a number of feature films released in the last few years: Stop Loss, The Hurt Locker, No End In Sight, In The Valley of Elah, Generation Kill, Green Zone, and Lions for Lambs all centered on the operations in Iraq. But The Battle for Marjah is one of only a few films that focus specifically on Afghanistan (Sebastian Junger and the late Tim Hetherington’s chilling documentary Restrepo is another).
This got me wondering about our relationship with Afghanistan in cinema. Recent films about the Iraq War have largely been box office blanks, even the ones that were well reviewed—Bob Tourtellotte wrote about this on Reuters' Fan Fare blog. Has that kept studios and filmmakers from focusing on the important subject of Afghanistan? Are there films about Afghanistan worth looking into that we’ve missed? Do you think filmmakers will revisit the subject in years to come?
Journalist and documentary-maker Ben Anderson discusses the war in Afghanistan, and his experience reporting on front lines in Helmand province. His book No Worse Enemy: The Inside Story of the Chaotic Struggle for Afghanistan is based on five years of unrivalled access to the US Marines and UK Forces, often for months at a time and amidst the worst violence the conflict has seen. It details the daily struggles facing U.S. troops in Afghanistan, and raises urgent questions about our strategies in there.
Ben Anderson, director of the documentary “The Battle for Marjah,” talks about the historic battle in Afghanistan. U.S. Marines launched Afghanistan: Operation Moshtarak, the biggest operation since the start of the Afghanistan war. The main target was the Taliban stronghold of Marjah, a town in Helmand province, in February 2010. Anderson spent two months with the American forces, and offers an intimate look at the brutal realities of modern-day warfare. “The Battle for Marjah” airs on February 17, at 9:00 pm, on HBO.