A special screening of Jirga will be held Friday July 19 from 7pm at Palace Cinemas, and will be followed by Q&A with director Benjamin Gilmour.
Gilmour, who is a former paramedic, says, ‘Shortly before I flew to Pakistan and then Afghanistan to shoot the feature film Jirga, about an Australian soldier returning to atone for a war crime, I met a veteran of the conflict while I was working as a paramedic in Sydney’.
‘The man wandered up to the window of our ambulance looking lost and aimless and told us he lived in a Potts Point doorway.
‘He was hearing voices again, shouting from the shadows. He was shouting in Pashto, the language of southern Afghanistan.
‘My 24 years as a paramedic had brought me into contact with plenty of elderly veterans of WWII, occasionally also a soldier who’d served in Vietnam.
‘Then, as our troops started returning from Afghanistan and Iraq, the veterans I began to see were younger than I was, much too young to be lying on a stretcher in my ambulance.
‘Too many of these young people who’d gone off to fight had come home damaged, some irreparably’.
The film is described as ‘a modern morality tale about a former Australian soldier, Mike, who returns to Afghanistan to find the family of a civilian he accidentally killed during the war. Seeking forgiveness, he puts his life in the hands of the village justice system – the Jirga’.