Michael Sheridan (at podium) with Community Supportive Film opening the floor to questions and thanking participants; Afghan filmmakers Zahra Sadat (projected on screen, right) and Jamal Aram (projected on screen, left) and panelist at table, AFSC's Peter Lems (left) and Lisa Schirch (right), Director of 3P Human Security.Photo: AFSC / Carl Roose
A conference room on Capitol Hill was transformed into an interactive dialogue space as participants experienced the perspectives of Afghan filmmakers in Kabul through a live video conference.
The “Afghan Civil Society Perspectives” briefing was co-sponsored by US Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA) and US Rep. James McGovern (D-MA). It helped kick off the March 1 Washington opening of Windows and Mirrors, the mural art exhibit on the human cost of the Afghanistan war sponsored by AFSC. The Afghan filmmakers’ documentary shorts, “The Fruit of Our Labor “is part of the exhibit. It is a project of Community Supported Film.
Rep. McGovern welcomed about 30 attendees by noting “we in Congress do not know enough about the Afghan experience.” He and Rep. Garamendi’s chief of staff agreed that removing US troops does not mean the US will abandon the Afghan people.
The film screening and conversation with Kabul centered on the challenges Afghan civilians face every day, and as they build civil societies. A rich panel discussion included Lisa Schirch of the 3P Human Security conflict prevention organization and Peter Lems, AFSC’s program director who works on Afghanistan and Iraq issues.
Filmmaker Zarah Sadat, who founded Afghanistan’s Open Society Organization, said, “Current levels of instability have cast a shadow over the gains that have been made.”
Lisa said, “Congress needs to be involved in helping coordinate diplomatic efforts – and that includes moving money out of the military into diplomacy.”
And Peter noted, “Security for Afghanistan hinges on a regional solution that includes all the bordering states… the government of Afghanistan and the voices from civil society.”
Visit the Afghanistan 101 blog for more on the briefing.
Visit Windows and Mirrors to get more info on the exhibit's events through the month of March.