"The Miscreants of Taliwood" Essay

"The Miscreants of Taliwood" Essay

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On Febuary 17th 2010, the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art opened their 2010 “Documentary Fortnight” film festival on international non-fiction films and on the 18th, they presented a film by George Gittoes titled “The Miscreants of Taliwood”. This was the third film of a trilogy by George Gittoes, of which the previous two films had also been presented at previous Documentary Fortnights. The MoMA promotional summary advertized the film in a classic travelogue style - “an extraordinary journey to a forbidden zone”. MoMAs promotional material fails to go beyond the cliché to present any insight as to why the curators chose to include this film or why they feel that George Gittoes body work deserved to be included in their film festival three times. In the film, Gittoes soon reveals his dominant message of the movie - that the Taliwood film industry is being threatened by conservative Islamists and that it should be saved. A secondary message in the move is that Westerners, his target audience for the film, are largely ignorant of the Pashtun people and their culture and are uninterested to learn more. He puts forward in the after screening Question and Answer session that this lack of interest is a major reason that the people of Pakistan and the people of the West cannot live harmoniously. “The Miscreants of Taliwood” makes a concerted effort to interest Western audiences in learning more about the Pashtun people, and this gonzo journalism effort results in an engaging, but mostly sensationalistic presentation of Pashtun culture that relies mostly upon exoticism typical to unilineal social evolution travelogues. The Q&A session reinforces this when he describes the making of a movie in terms of Joseph Conrad, a trip to “t...


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...n acts even in the face of danger not due to an artistic principle, but due to the need to put food on the table for her family. Even though Gittoes arguments fall short, the Taliwood film industry should be encouraged. As Shah Rukh Kahn, a famous Bollywood actor and director in India said in an interview for NPR on Bollywood films “"Our fantasies are about earning a good living, having maybe a car — not two. Getting an education for your kids. Our fantasies are not about getting to be president of the country, to sit in a rocket and go and break a meteor. Our fantasies are very real.” A movie obtains popularity not because it is foremost trying to change culture, but because it reflects of the hopes, desires and fantasies of their audience. Free expression of common hopes, desires and fantasies will provide the a true bridge between the Western and the Pashtun.

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