On Feburary 22nd, photojournalist Louie Palu screened his film “Kandahar Journals” in the Johnson Center Cinema as part of the Visiting Filmmakers Series sponsored by Global Affairs, Global Programs and the film and media studies department.
The film focused on Palu’s experiences as an embedded photojournalist in the Kandahar province of Afghanistan from 2006 to 2010.
As Global Affairs students, Tim O’Shea and, Donna Imadi, we were honored to have the opportunity to conduct a personal interview with Palu.
During our conversation, we were able to discuss Palu’s experiences in Afghanistan, how they had changed him, and what his motivations were for going to Afghanistan and exposing the war.
Palu’s past clearly sowed the seeds of motivation for him to create this film. He was born in Canada, and is the son of Italian immigrants who fled Italy during World War II. He recalled memories of his parents being haunted by the fear of Nazi’s years after they had escaped.
Palu expressed how his family’s own trauma left him feeling disconnected from them, as he was unable to fully comprehend the anguish his parents had undergone.
So, in 2006, he decided to embed himself in Kandahar in order to truly understand their circumstances and experiences living in traumatic conditions.
This was said to be his initial motivation for the film- to discover where he truly came from and to understand his life and his own family. He emphasized the innate curiosity of human beings to understand “where we come from”, as he had yearned to do.
While in Afghanistan, Palu soon grappled with the reality of war. He discussed with us how the actuality of war seems to get lost in the glamorization of conflicts within the media, through TV shows, war movies, and action figures. However, as Palu described it, being in a war zone is completely different than talking about war- the dissonance is palpable once one has actually experienced it.
This brought Palu to a final point to make about the film- it is a representation of a more accurate depiction of conflict. The film exposes war for what it truly is: gruesome, merciless, and terrifying.
For Palu, this film was about trying to start a meaningful conversation about the war in Afghanistan. Ultimately, by exposing the reality of the war, the hope is to start a large enough dialogue in which our society is conscious enough to prevent war, like the one in Kandahar, from occurring once more.
March 29, 2016