Programmed by Jürgen Ellinghaus
1983, or the year 1362 according to the solar Hijri calendar used in Afghanistan, four years after the USSR’s “friendly” intervention in this landlocked country where the Marxist-Leninist government that seized power was running out of steam. Volker Koepp was offered the chance to work on an extraordinary project, spending a month filming in this new, distant and unknown “brother country”. In Kabul, Jalalabad and Mazar-i Sharif, he meets various inhabitants in very different situations, some of them benefiting from the new regime supported by the Eastern bloc. He offers us “Today’s Pictures”, impressions gathered on the spot in a land deeply scarred by the persistence of an undeclared war.
The difficulties involved in this project are many – political, safety-related, linguistic, logistical and cultural… The unusual non-contemporaneity, echoed in the film’s title, is problematic from the very start. "How can I make a film in such a short time and about what?" wonders Volker Koepp under Kabul’s night sky swept by beams of light from anti-aircraft defence. The movie gropes its way forward in street scenes and everyday life, a bucolic shot of a shepherd and his meagre flock, and then another, of a damaged Soviet tank being towed… The editing expresses this complex situation in the dialectic of the contradictions – tradition versus modernity, handcrafted versus industrially manufactured, clans versus the centralised State, religion versus secularism. The film doesn’t come to many conclusions, but between these exceptional shots – images sometimes charged with lyricism and sometimes slightly formulaic expressions of support in front of the camera of these "Westerners from the East" – what emerges instead is profound doubt about this ongoing "revolutionary process’s" chances of succeeding.