Fixer: The Taking of Ajmal Naqshbandi - the politics of present day Afghanistan


Fixer: The Taking of Ajmal Naqshbandi (USA, 2009)

Seen: Sunday, 18th October 2009 (cinema, WFF)
Runtime: 84′
Director: Ian Olds
Plot: (from imdb)

In 2007, the Taliban kidnapped 24-year-old Ajmal Naqshbandi and an Italian journalist. Naqshbandi was one of Afghanistan’s best “fixers” — someone hired by foreign journalists to facilitate, translate, and gain access for their stories.


Impressions In Short
There wasn’t that much in this film that was new to me, but my parents came with me and from what I gathered they learnt quite a bit *grin* It’s definitely a good documentary to watch if you want to find out a bit more about Afghanistan.

More About the Film
I think the film’s strongest aspect is how it explains the political situation in the country. I haven’t seen a film which talked about Karzai’s government in quite that much detail before. A scene that was particularly striking was when they go to an Afghan court to film what standard proceedings look like, only to find that everything they were being shown was staged especially for them. The conversation afterwards (they were allowed to ask any questions they wanted) was rather hilarious. There was no attempt to hide that the case had been completely staged for them or even the reasons for it. That scene is definitely a highlight *grin*
The whole madness of the political system and how strongly influenced it is by outside powers comes through very strongly. I’m told that originally the film was supposed to be about fixers and their job (a fixer is someone who fixes up interviews for foreign journalists in dangerous areas). This changed when Ajmal Naqshbandi, a fixer that was a key character in their film, was captured and eventually murdered by the Taleban. His death became a huge political issue in Afghanistan (the Afghan government negotiated the release of the Italian journalist who had been captured with Ajmal, but did not do the same for its own citizen) and became the main subject matter of the film.

Yes, I think. If you have at least a small interest in political issues such as Afghanistan then this is definitely worth watching.
A word of caution to the squeamish though… the film shows some very violent images. IMO they are handled quite sensitively (some have parts blacked out when the violence gets very difficult to stomach), but they are still drastic. If you’re wondering whether showing this sort of thing was really necessary then my answer is yes. Bombs and Taleban executions are part of life in Afghanistan, unfortunately. There was no point in watering these things down and I thought those scenes were sort of necessary to properly understand some of the emotions that came up in the course of the film.

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