Luna Palace Cinemas, Leederville are delighted to welcome director-author Benjamin Gilmour and lead actor Sam Smith for a special Q&A screening of their film Jirga on Thursday 27 September following the 6.30pm session at Luna Leederville.
Jirga was the only Australian film In Competition at Sydney Film Festival, In Competition at Cinefest Oz 2018 and screened at MIFF in August. JIRGA is the second film by Benjamin Gilmour following his award-winning feature debut Son of a Lion (2008) and produced by John Maynard (Sherpa, Balibo)
Made under extraordinary, and extremely dangerous, conditions, Jirga tells the emotional story of a former Australian soldier who travels to Afghanistan to seek forgiveness.
Three years after an Australian army helicopter raid on a small village led to the killing of an unarmed man, former Australian soldier Mike (Sam Smith) returns to Afghanistan to find the victim’s family. Doggedly, he sets off on a perilous journey over a terrain where both the Taliban and ISIS are active. Mike is determined to make amends and so puts his life in the hands of the Jirga – the village justice system. The risky trek has remarkable parallels with the making of the film. With an earlier version of the screenplay in hand, director Benjamin Gilmour and actor Sam Smith headed to Pakistan to shoot a film on the border with Afghanistan. When the script was deemed too politically sensitive, the promised funding disappeared and along with it the possibility to make the film. Gilmour says: “Returning to Australia to make alternative plans would’ve been the sensible conclusion to our adventure. Instead, we went with Plan B and decided to shoot the whole film ourselves in Afghanistan.” With a camera bought at a Pakistani shopping mall, Gilmour shot the hastily rewritten film himself, while frequently in danger of kidnapping or worse. The result is a sensitive and compassionate tale on the impact of war and the cost of redemption.
Jirga /ˈdʒəːɡə/ Noun: An Afghan court of tribal elders. A traditional Pashtun tribal authority of community elders. The decision of the Jirga is binding on all members of the tribe.
“Jirga is my response to the proliferation of war-porn in the media, and the generalised depiction of Afghans as extremists. I wanted to counter the Islamic terrorist stereotype of contemporary American war propaganda by giving a human face to combatants and civilians alike, demonstrating the true cost of war on all sides.” – Benjamin Gilmour
Benjamin Gilmour is a filmmaker, author and paramedic, based in northern NSW. His films include the feature Son of a Lion and documentary Paramedico. As a published author, Gilmour’s titles include Warrior Poets: Guns, Movie-making and the Wild West of Pakistan, Paramedico – Around the World by Ambulance and most recently the children’s book The Travel Bug.
Jirga, directed by Benjamin Gilmour and produced by John Maynard, has been named the winner of the 2018 CinefestOZ $100,000 Film Prize, Australia’s greatest film prize. Congratulations to everyone involved in this terrific film!
★ ★ ★ ★ “buoyed by a tremendous sense of restraint: so rich and contemplative; so reluctant to sensationalise or speculate.” The Guardian – Luke Buckmaster
“we can either go home with nothing or you and I can go to Afghanistan and rewrite the film together, cast people from the street and basically wing it,” – Director Benjamin Gilmour to lead Sam Smith. The Sydney Morning Herald – Garry Maddox
EXCLUSIVE SEASON STARTS FROM SEPTEMBER 27 AT LUNA LEEDERVILLE.