AUSTRALIA’S 2019 BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE OSCAR SUBMISSION
A modern morality tale about a former Australian soldier, Mike, who returns to Afghanistan to find the family of a civilian he accidentally killed during the war. Seeking forgiveness, he puts his life in the hands of the village justice system – the Jirga.
I was approached by a Pakistani producer who had found a Pashtun financier ready to put up $100K for the production of my script in Pakistan. My film was set in Afghanistan, but to benefit from the finance we’d need to shoot in Pakistan’s Khyber Paktunkwha province. I approached Sam Smith, a talented actor from Sydney (not the singer) who was up for the adventure. We flew to Islamabad, only to discover the financier did not have permission to shoot from the ISI – the Pakistan secret service; who actively blocked the production after reading the script, considering it too politically sensitive. The Pashtun financier pulled his money out. Sam Smith and I were stranded in Pakistan with no team and no money and were now being tailed and harassed by the secret service. We could have flown back home then, but instead decided to shift the whole shoot to Afghanistan, risking our lives and investing some crowd funding and personal savings to make it…
“Sam Smith and I were stranded in Pakistan with no team and no money”
— Benjamin Gilmour