Film of the Week: Fixer - The Taking of Ajmal Naqshbandi

A fixer is a mediator; a local contact-man providing access to information to foreign reporters in countries buffeted by war. From July 4, the Doc Alliance Films portal presents the story of one of Afghanistan’s “fixers” Ajmal Naqshbandi. In the unique film by American director Ian Olds, Ajmal’s tragic fate becomes an allegory of the unfortunate land of Afghanistan…

“Unfortunately, I don’t have the answer, but I do hope this film can be part of the dialogue”, says director Ian Olds when it comes to the theme of the possibility of understanding the situation in Afghanistan. In his film, he almost resigns from making any interpretations or judgements. Nevertheless, in the maze of Afghanistan’s present and past, his film represents a precious guide for the very fact that instead of construing impossible objective perspectives, it rather presents a concrete human story for further reflection. However, Fixer – The Taking of Ajmal Naqshbandi does not focus on Ajmal only. His life story is narrated mostly through his relationship and cooperation with American reporter Christian Parenti. Situations documenting the two men during their cooperation represent an interesting examination of the way foreign reporters gain information in dangerous territories while reconstructing Ajmal’s character step by step. Thus a portrait of a man emerges; a man who is exceptionally mature, competent, thoughtful and sensitive for his age; a man whose personality and talent are severed by death.
Ajmal Naqshbandi was captured by the Taliban when accompanying Italian reporter Daniel Mastrogiacomo. Whereas the Italian was exchanged for a hostage and received in his country as a hero, Ajmal was executed by his kidnappers at the age of twenty four. The Afghan government refused to offer another hostage in his stead. Director Ian Olds decided to film Ajmal’s story after he heard about his tragic death, in cooperation with Christian Parenti as assistant producer. The reconstruction of Ajmal’s capturing, Taliban’s threats and the use of video recordings made during his imprisonment as well as during his cruel execution represent the dramatic line of the film. In the latter part of the film, reflections about his death made by his father, friends and colleagues as well as archive footage from the media create a space for reflection on the fate of the whole country; a country bound by a complex chain of causes and effects, in which those who aimed their interventions and demonstrations of power there in the past have the greatest share.

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