Directors: Saeed Taji Farouky and Michael McEvoy
Producers: Saeed Taji Farouky, Elizabeth C Jones and Michael McEvoy
Executive producers: Scott Brown, Robert Elliott, David Kennedy and Nick Quested
Running time: 83 minutes
Country: UK, Afghanistan
Ever since the invasion of Afghanistan by NATO forces in 2001, following the attacks on the USA on September 11, the names of many parts of Afghanistan have become familiar to households all across the UK and the US.
The foreign sounding names such as Helmand and Sangin are now etched into our psyche in much the same way as places such as Passchendaele and the Somme as places of death and destruction. Although these more recent foreign fields may seem very distant to us, to the men of the Afghan National Army these are parts of their country.
This is the story of this very powerful documentary ‘Tell Spring Not to Come This Year.’ It shows what it is like the for the men of the 3rd battalion, 3/215 Corps as they deal with the daily threat from the Taliban now that NATO forces have left the country.
The main focus of the film is on Captain Jalaluddin and Private Sunnatullah and it shows the brutal reality that these men have to deal with. We see what made them decide to join the army and then what life is like fighting the Taliban on their own.
Unsurprisingly it is a very graphic film as it shows, in a very matter of fact way, exactly what it’s like in Afghanistan now. You see the men when they are surrounded by the Taliban and desperately trying to find out if they will get any support or even a way out. One man says, positively, that he fought with the NATO troops for three years and they always got away.
You can’t help but think that now that the NATO troops with all their hardware have gone that in the future he may not be quite so optimistic. Hopefully he will be lucky at least. Having said that, at the end of the film the directors list the names of the men from this one battalion who were killed during the filming, all 31 of them. A shocking statistic.
What is almost as equally shocking is when one of the men mentions that, although many of them joined in order to leave poverty, they haven’t been paid for nine months. He says it in a way that signals that he knows he can’t do anything about it, after all he, like all the others, signed up for three years and it would appear they can’t just quit.
Tell Spring Not to Come This Year is not a film for the faint hearted, even though at many times during the film you see the natural beauty of Afghanistan and its people. In one sequence, when the men are under fire from Taliban fighters, we see one of the men who has clearly been shot in the head being brought down from his position. This sort of thing is often shown in Hollywood films, but this is real, as is the CPR being given later on after the poor man has been carried, dropped in the dust and, eventually, delivered to a Humvee.
You can’t help but feel pity for these men who have mixed feelings that NATO has now left them to it. Some feel left behind, others that this is their country and that they didn’t want NATO there in the first place. A truly brave film made by two very brave filmmakers.
TELL SPRING NOT TO COME THIS YEAR is out now in select cinemas in the UK.