Circus under the eyes of Taliban a highwire act
Spreading "humour and hugs" ... George Gittoes, Ashid the pixie-faced midget and Dali the money stand in front of a deflated big top. Photo: Wagar Alam
February 25, 2012.
George Gittoes has found inspiration at the front line of conflicts, writes John Huxley. They arrive in the badlands of Afghanistan in a blaze of colour, a babble of nervous laughter. Dancers. Singers. Mime-artists. Dali, a performing monkey. Ashid, a pixie-faced midget who packs a flick-knife. A traditional circus troupe, they are led by a self-styled "love-crazy Australian" driving a bright-blue, World War II truck, left behind by the Russians. Under the bemused supervision of Taliban elders, they hand out lollies to inquisitive local kids, erect a big-top tent, painted in psychedelic colours, and set up a home entertainment centre, brought from Sydney.Over two days, this company of angels frolic across the makeshift stage, miming, mock-fighting, screening movies, making friends with an audience that has no school, no doctor, no TV, no electricity. Miraculously, showtime has come to the Tora Bora mountains, the Taliban stronghold where for several years the US Army hunted Osama bin Laden. "We did it. We did it," George Gittoes shouts crazily, as he poses for a picture, Ashid on one arm, Dali on the other, flanked by stern-looking Talibs. "And, we're still alive." The Sydney-born artist and movie maker and international agent provocateur for peace, has been planning a trip into the mountains for years. It is part of his mission to save the regional Pashtun film industry. It is being bombed out of existence by Taliban and other fundamentalists in Afghanistan and neighbouring Pakistan. Over the past five years, he has made five Pashto-language docos and dramas, including the funny-scary Miscreants of Taliwood, which is subtitled, George Gittoes's Extreme Tour of Terror Central.Read more: http://www.watoday.com.au/world/circus-under-the-eyes-of-taliban-a-highwire-act-20120224-1tte8.html#ixzz1nPIw9G6q