A Flickering Truth

Pietra Brettkelly


Pietra Brettkelly


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As Afghanistan teeters on an unpredictable future, A FLICKERING TRUTH unwraps the world of three dreamers and 8000 hours of film covered by the dust of 100 years of war.

Can these men who risked their lives to protect this vessel of culture, restore the record of Afghanistan's colourful and diverse past? And what surprises will emerge from the cloak of time?


A stooped old man shuffles to open a door. A world escapes, of burnt footage, a liberated woman in a crowd, mysterious grey shapes cloaked in dust, equipment covered in Russian writing, film scattered. The sound of a helicopter is close overhead.

Sandwiched between military headquarters and heavily-guarded embassies is the Afghan Film Archive, gifted in the 1960s by the American people. John F Kennedy met with King Shah of Afghanistan to mark a time of comradeship and peace. But what happened to the Archive and its thousands of hours of film through decades of war?

Isaaq believes he's 82. He's lived at the Afghan Film Archive for 31 years, distributing keys from a tin can. In one drawer of the cabinet that separates Isaaq’s living area from his makeshift kitchen is an apple. In the next, records Isaaq keeps of films being made. Except there hasn't been a film made here since the Taliban came into power.

Isaaq has seen little of what he is guarding. And, until now, neither has the rest of the world...

A FLICKERING TRUTH unwraps a world frozen in time, frozen in dust. Following three men – Isaaq, Mahmoud and Arify – what surprises emerge from the cloak of time?