The Afghan Bug is an exploration of the motivations of Expats to live in the hostile foreign environment of Afghanistan and the impact of their actions on the local people.
Why do some people risk their lives by living in conflict zones? The motivations are varying and different, but there is still some underlying ‘bug’ that calls them all to risk their lives in a conflict zone.
The Afghan Bug takes a balanced cross section of the various types of people who entered the country during the Western intervention and reflects on their personal reasons for doing so.
Starting with Zia (an Afghan interpreter), we learn about the nature of the Afghan culture and the intoxicating effect on expats. Through him we also learn about the character of Afghanistan - the country - by moving from the capital Kabul through the various provinces to discover the enchanting effect it has on foreigners.
Each of the documentary subjects has different motivations for being in the country and as we learn about them - we learn about the history of the war, what actually happened, what was achieved and what was the footprint left behind. Each of the subjects leaves Afghanistan, except for Zia.
As the documentary closes we have a greater understanding of the history of the region that has been fraught with conflict for decades, which has only been exacerbated since the Western intervention. We also learn about the courageous human spirit.
Afghanistan’s No. 1 Fixer
Zia is the Afghan national who starts and ends this documentary. He is the person who can't leave, even though he may want to make himself and his family safe. Accordingly, he is the person through which the audience sees the impact of foreign intervention in Afghanistan on the local people.
Fideles is a self-confessed war profiteer from Germany with an ever-open eye on conflict zone opportunities. Fideles found the perfect business opportunity when the US invaded Afghanistan. He became a car salesman of the finest luxury armoured vehicles that money could buy. He supplied Kings, Presidents and the odd Dictator or two. For Fideles It wasn’t about selling cars, it was about selling the concept of security
Shannon represents the raft of aid workers who went to help those most in need. After being a victim of rape in the US, Shannon used the experience as a catalyst to raise funds to start a non-profit called Mountain to Mountain which focused on female education in rural areas. Shannon was also a keen mountain biker and she focused part of her philanthropy on supporting the female Afghan Olympic cycle team. Her other projects included providing teaching materials to a deaf school in Kabul, vocational training for women in Kandahar Prison and building a school in the Pansjshir Valley.
How does the project meet the aims of a philanthropic foundation?
The film fulfills the aims of a philanthropic foundation by looking at a story from a marginalized perspective to create more tolerance and understanding between cultures, religions and governments around the world.
We have partnered up with the Afghan Australian Development Organisation to use any following from our film directed towards the work that AADO does in Afghanistan. Travis worked and lived with AADO back in 2007 and therefore has a strong relationship with the organisations founder Nouria Salehi. Dr Salehi has just been appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in the Australia Day honours. She received this award for: Significant service to the Afghan, migrant and refugee communities. The Order of Australia is the pre-eminent means by which Australia recognises the outstanding and meritorious service of its citizens. Together The Afghan Bug Team and AADO can bring more spotlight on the plight of the Afghans both inside the country and those spread out across the world, who only seek safety and shelter from the horrors they experienced back at home.
As in Travis' first film Rockabul the film that helped 5 young Afghans not only discover music, but also through their exposure gain residency in other countries - UK, US and Australia. The Afghan Bug will also highlight the injustices and wrong doings of the Afghan population and hopefully through films such as us, the awareness raised will inspire audiences to rally, petition and demand better treatment for migrants, refugees here in Australia as well as the Aid programs that are meant to be rebuilding the country that we helped liberate from the Taliban regime.
What outcomes do you hope to achieve by making this film and how will you measure its impact?
Aims & Objectives
Although the documentary deals with a very heavy subject – war and its impact, the style is to draw attention to the absurdity of many of the situations bringing comedic relief. We want to show the normalcy inside a sphere or organised chaos. With president Trump committed to pulling out troops from Afghanistan and Taliban peace talks on the table, Afghanistan is far from a forgotten story.
The recent history of the Kabulians needs to be documented for future generations to create a record for future learning in societies around the world. Travis is about to start a series of public speaking and workshop sessions at year 9 high schools in the Melbourne area. From this direct exposure the next generation, we will tap into their needs and tailor our PR material to also meet their needs and interest.
We will be able to measure our desired outcomes through the networks already established with our previous film - Rockabul. With the new audience we recruit with this film and most importantly with the wide and extensive network that AADO has access to - the Afghans migrants and refugees living in Australia and the Australian who have been supporting AADO in its 15 years of operation.
With all these networks tied into one greater network, we will use our social media and analytic tools to measure the rise of the following and the trends that capture the attention of these communities. We also hope that through this ever widening of our social net, we will by default catch a whole new demographic that is the younger generation.
What is your education and outreach strategy?
We will seek to raise awareness through key groups such as: Afghan expat community worldwide with a particular focus in the countries of the relevant subjects (i.e. Australia, UK, Germany, United States etc); the diplomatic community – in this regard we will work with relevant embassies (we note, we have established relationships with various embassies through the work achieved by Rockabul – such embassies include Vienna, The Netherlands, Australia, Kabul etc); the military and war veteran community; the NGO community – in particular we note that we have aligned goals with the Australian Afghan Development Organisation and are currently discussing partnerships for outreach with them through mutually beneficial campaigns and promotion.
We are also commencing educational talks where director Travis Beard will speak at schools (he is currently scheduled to speak at a school in Victoria to 15 year olds completing media studies) this talk will become a precedent for others as we consider the education audience to be a key audience.
Importantly we are considering podcasts and how we can use this medium to draw an audience to the film.
We will build a community around the film through social media - twitter, facebook, instagram as well as through articles and traditional media. We would use each of the characters, the film-makers and the production companies to capitalise on their existing followings as well as to increase followings. The director, Travis Beard would reach out to radio and TV stations for interview. We are also creating podcasts to release prior to the film to encourage a greater audience. We would use very sticky handles to get audience attention. Film festivals will be helpful in reaching an audience as will awards.