Massoud, the Afghan | Chicago Reader

Massoud, the Afghan

French filmmaker Christophe de Ponfilly first visited Afghanistan in 1981; this 1998 documentary about Ahmed Shah Massoud, the slain leader of the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, is his sixth film about the war-torn country. Shown preparing to attack the Taliban in 1997, Massoud comes across as a mysterious and magnetic figure, but like The Great Gatsby this is as much a portrait of the idolater as the idol: Ponfilly discloses that he comes to Afghanistan to escape the arrogance of the West and that his admiration for the Northern Alliance is rooted in his shame over the Nazi occupation of France. Near the end of the film, after Massoud has brushed off repeated interview requests, Ponfilly gives him a letter uging him to become a more public figure for the sake of his cause, which turned out to be catastrophically bad advice: the suicide bombers who assassinated Massoud on September 9, 2001, were posing as documentary filmmakers. In French and Pashtu, with English translation and narration. 93 min.

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