For Afghans, the choice to leave or stay in Afghanistan is a decision that must be made every day. Filmed in January 2016, How We Choose serves as a portrait of how it feels to live day to day in Kabul right now — interweaving the lives of five Afghans who are making the choice to stay, leave on a special visa, or plan to leave illegally. This choice is not a simple one. Filled with regret, promise, disappointment, pride, frustration, and hope — every individual stands to lose so much no matter what they decide.
Director’s Statement: Alexandria Bombach
It is natural to want to make our lives better for ourselves and our families – let alone be able to survive. Since my first trip to Afghanistan in 2012, I have met many Afghans struggling with the unremitting dilemma of whether to stay or leave Afghanistan. Their decision can waver between moments of normalcy encouraging them to stay, and an increase of random explosions and attacks taunting them to leave. The weight of this choice has only become more urgent within the last year. Despite a deteriorating security situation and the Taliban gaining a stronger foothold in Afghanistan, countries are closing their borders specifically to people of Afghan nationality. This film is an attempt to bring empathy and nuance to the complexities of this innately human choice.
Director(s): Kirsten Johnson
Known for her outstanding cinematography in films such as Citizenfour, Invisible War (AIFF12), and Fahrenheit 9/11, Kirsten Johnson now turns the camera on herself, reframing the remarkable and varied footage she has shot from around the world over 25 years into a deeply poetic visual memoir. She appraises the relationship between truth and what the camera sees by juxtaposing scenes from documentaries with intimate views of her own children and aging mother, transforming them into a meditation on memory and human connection. Her footage reveals an intensely personal story while questioning the power of the camera to illuminate and intrude.
Director’s Statement: Kirsten Johnson
I never anticipated, even as recently as five years ago when this film began, how many people in the world would be filming on their cell phones as well as seeing images from every part of the globe, communicating visually and instantaneously in shifting and unprecedented ways. In making Cameraperson, we decided to rely as much as possible on the evidence of my experience in the footage I shot in the moment. We know that this fragmentary portrait is incomplete but are interested in the way it points to how stories are constructed. As in the film, this is an invitation to you, and an acknowledgment of how complex it is to film and be filmed.