A Journey Across Afghanistan: Opium and Roses
Balkan News Corporation -- bTV, Sofia, Bulgaria
A Journey Across Afghanistan: Opium and Roses is a rambling, non-fiction road movie in which producer-writer Venelin Petkov and his videographers take detour after detour to reach their stated goal: to show Afghanistan to international viewers “from a point of view rarely explored by Western media—that of the Afghan people themselves.” Much of the beautifully shot documentary is concerned with how and why Afghan farmers and their families grow massive crops of opium-yielding poppies despite legal prohibitions and moral conflicts with Islam. We meet poppy harvesters who look more like a youth soccer team than terrorists or criminals. We meet Afghan men living in addiction treatment facilities and learn that Afghanistan has female addicts, too, though they are banned from rehab. The documentary derives its subtitle from a section about a German-backed alternative-crop experiment in Nangarhar Province: rose bushes whose petals yield valuable oil used in cosmetics. In Nangarhar, Petkov also gets an earful from villagers who have no love for the Taliban but have grown disillusioned with western troops whom they believe are too quick to use force and still don’t understand local customs. For illuminating the variety and complexity of a misunderstood country, A Journey Across Afghanistan: Opium and Roses receives a Peabody Award.
PRIMARY PRODUCTION CREDITS
Producer/Director/Writer: Venelin Petkov. Camera: Azmat Garanay, Lyubomir Vuchkov, Ivan Filchev.