Press Release – Sally Woodfield
New Footage in Controversial Documentary Closely Investigating New Zealand’s Military Role in Afghanistan
New footage in the documentary He Toki Huna: New Zealand in Afghanistan will expose further evidence challenging the New Zealand military and Government’s account of the role of our troops in Afghanistan.
The documentary is screening as part of the New Zealand International Film Festival in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin, beginning in Auckland this Sunday August 4 at 1.30pm at SKYCITY.
Co-produced and directed by award-winning filmmakers Annie Goldson and Kay Ellmers, He Toki Huna follows non-embedded journalist Jon Stephenson as he reports on the role and legacy our troops played in Afghanistan.
Stephenson this week made headlines after it was revealed he was spied upon by US agencies while he was working in Afghanistan, and that as an investigative journalist, he has been labelled a “subversive” in New Zealand Defence Department documents.
He also recently brought a high-profile defamation suit against Lieutenant General Rhys-Jones and the New Zealand Defence Force for claiming “he made stuff up”. The case resulted in a hung jury.
Co-producer and director Annie Goldson says this new edit exposes further evidence gathered by Jon Stephenson that New Zealanders have not been told the full story of the New Zealand military’s role in Afghanistan.
“We challenge the rosy picture that’s presented by most media reports which have side-stepped the realities of combat and death in a conflict which has dragged on for more than 10 years and has been difficult to comprehend, let alone justify. We ask why we became involved and why the New Zealand public has been told so little.”
As well as following Jon Stephenson’s reporting, Goldson said that the film “includes many other voices – Kiwi and Afghan –as we try to tell the full story of New Zealand’s involvement in Afghanistan”.
Co-director/producer Kay Ellmers said the film does pose some uncomfortable questions about the political motivations that sent young New Zealand men and women to battle in a very ill-defined war “against an unclear and shifting ‘enemy’, supporting a new Afghan ‘state’ with little support amongst its own population.
“Most importantly, unlike most other media coverage to date, we hear from Afghans themselves, did they want us there, and what has our presence achieved? What do they think of our attempts to reconstruct their provinces and to introduce “democracy”? We give voice to the indigenous population and seek their analysis of New Zealand’s presence in their homeland.”
He Toki Huna: New Zealand in Afghanistan will be screened as part of the New Zealand International Film Festival in Auckland on Sunday 4 August; in Wellington on Friday 9 and Saturday 10 August; in Christchurch on Sunday 18 August and in Dunedin on Wednesday 21 and Thursday 22 August. Tickets and details are available at www.nziff.co.nz Join the conversation at www.nzinafghanistan.com
He Toki Huna: New Zealand in Afghanistan was funded through NZ on Air and Maori Television Service with generous support from The University of Auckland and assistance from the New Zealand Film Commission’s Feature Film Finishing Grant.