The Australian maverick director George Gittoes travels to Terror Central in Pakistan, where he decides to shoot a local Pashto telie film (high on kitsch and machine guns) right under the nose of the Taliban’s anti-entertainment forces. He throws himself into the clash of fundamentalism and entertainment – virtual and real – in this off-beat docu-drama mix. Gittoes takes us on a surprising, terrifying journey, into the forbidden zones of Pakistan’s explosive North West Frontier. Is it a documentary or is this ‘war art’?
CREDITS A Gittoes & Dalton Production: www.Gittoes-Dalton-Films.com Feature documentary: 91.40 min.
HD DVD, Digi Cine & B/Cast Masters Year of production: 2009
World premiere: Telluride Film Festival, Director’s Cut section, September 2009
European premiere: International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, Competition, November 2009
Director/ Producer/ Cinematographer – George Gittoes
Co-Producer – Gabrielle Dalton
Editor – Nick Meyers
ASE DISTRIBUTION North America: ICM, Jessica Lacy, firstname.lastname@example.org Other regions: SBS –Australia – with interest in regional and broadcasting partners.
Contact: Kristin Burgham – Kristin.Burgham@sbs.com.au, George Gittoes – email@example.com
IN THE PRESS
Stephen Farber in The Hollywood Reporter: “It’s rare for a documentary to be called truly eyeopening, but this picture accomplishes the feat of showing us a part of the world we could never imagine. (…) As a piece of filmmaking, “Miscreants” is impressive. The cinematography thrusts us into the middle of the action, and the editing is dynamic. It’s impossible to separate the filmmaker from the stranger-than-fiction adventure he chronicles.”
David D’Arcy in The National: in The Miscreants of Taliwood, the veteran Australian director George Gittoes happens upon the improbable emerging film industry in Peshawar, Pakistan. In Taliwood, as Gittoes calls it in a nod to Hollywood and Bollywood, the Taliban, which operates nearby, react with punitive violence on “miscreants” when films depicting westernstyle “decadence” are made or sold in the region. (…) It’s hard to imagine Michael Moore or Morgan Spurlock bounding through the North-Western Frontier Provinces mountains like Gittoes.
ABOUT THE FILM
Maverick super doc Director George Gittoes has a reputation for taking us into the under layers of the least traveled places: Iraq (SOUNDTRACK TO WAR), Miami’s rap ‘hoods (RAMPAGE); in The MISCREANTS OF TALIWOOD, the final in his NO EXIT Trilogy, covering the Bush War on Terror Era, Gittoes takes us to the world’s next hot spot – the Tribal Belt on the Pakistan-Afghan border. Gittoes extreme and risky Miscreants journey begins as he enters the crisis of democracy in Pakistan, outside the Red Mosque siege in Islamabad, July 2007, and gathers pace as he witnesses Benazir Bhutto’s assassination in Lahore, Jan 2008.
Reaching into the heart of what is happening in Pakistan, Gittoes dresses in local costume and travels to Peshawar and the North West Frontier, right into the forbidden zones of the Tribal Belt – the reputed hiding place of Osama Bin Laden. Who are the Miscreants?
Pakistani society is being purged of non-conformists. Included in the Taliban’s list of ‘miscreants’, are men who cut their beards and hair, boys who look at girls, women, the educated, foreigners, filmmakers, actors, singers, dancers and store owners who sell any kind of entertainment or mobile phones. Store bombings and public beheadings are the public messages of the local enforcers.
To enter this world, director George Gittoes agrees to double as an actor in a Pashto telie movie, and takes us into the lives of a local action hero, Javed Musazai, and his crew, as they struggle to make a living and hold onto the entertainment industry under threat by the Taliban. Crossing the lines between doc and drama, real and unreal, this circus-like troupe shoot their ‘Taliwood’ feature film in one of the craziest locations in the world – just a cave or two away from where the most wanted man in the world runs ‘Terror Central’.
In this full-of-surprises doc-drama blend, the telie movies, with their hilarious adaptation of American movie culture – meets village storyteller and Bollywood style, are intercut with the real life drama of Gittoes’ extreme journey into the no-go zone of the Taliban controlled Tribal Belt. As the director gets into his role as a telie Movie bad-guy, and the drama script hits its punch lines, real life in Pakistan hits meltdown. Gittoes cuts into the socio-political heat and opens up the dichotomies of global/regional popular culture, gathering the fall out from both a polarized fundamentalist Islamic perspective and that of the permissive West. It plays with questions relevant to us all. What is real, what is unreal and what is too real, in a post-digital world? And who controls it?