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Gothenburg 07/02/2012 - 03:08PM

UF Film Club Spring Season Premiere - A Dream for Kabul

Photo by Filip Svensson

Dear Mr. Osama bin Laden:

I am not famous and am not a political specialist. I am just an ordinary Japanese citizen. I was leading a quiet, ordinary life in anticipation of the growth of my only son. But the happening on Sept. 11, 2001 completely changed my quiet life. It is the same for everyone throughout the world, but losing a member of the family is very saddening. If you are the father of children, you should be able to understand this. My son had his own big dream, left Japan to go to the United States and worked hard to achieve his dream. Why did you embroil innocent, ordinary civilians? I want to know why. I do not believe that the United States is absolutely right. If each side believes it is right, it will be eternally impossible to get an answer. In Japan there is the ancient traditional thinking of “adauchi” (vendetta); if someone in one’s family is killed, one kills the killer without fail. If I had this thinking, I would search for you all over the world and take revenge. But as a result of my killing you as my son’s enemy, what will remain in my heart? An emptiness which cannot be clearly comprehended probably will remain. This is not restricted to just my son, but why did you carry out the terrorist attacks in New York that day? I want to know your true feelings. For this, I want to meet you once and ask you what justice is in your thinking and why you had to carry out the terrorist attacks. I want to know your true thinking. And unless I inform my son in his grave about the real truth, there will be no end to my life.

If this letter reaches you, I would like to meet you, just the two of us. If that is not possible, please send me a letter in reply.

2001.9.11 NY WTC Building 105F

From a father who lost his son,

Haruhiro Shiratori

(Originally published on the WSJ website)

This letter, which to my knowledge never received a reply from Usama Bin Laden, was written by Haruhiro Shiratori, the subject of Philippe Baylaucq's documentary "A Dream for Kabul", which was screened at the spring premiere of the UF Film Club this Monday. As stated in his letter, Mr. Shiratori's son Atsushi was one of the 2977 victims of the September 11 attacks. Struggling to comprehend the motives for such an act of immense cruelty, Mr. Shiratori is unable to shake off the emptiness inflicted upon him by the sudden death of his son. In one of the most memorable scenes in the movie, Mr. Shiratori contemplates over how it is to feel the need for revenge, and how natural it in a way seems to him in his situation. Nevertheless, he moves on to pointing out that however natural revenge might feel, it is will not be good enough to satisfy him. Instead, wanting to help creating a better world and in search for the deeper meaning of his personal destiny, he travels to war-torn Afghanistan with his vision of creating a cultural centre for children.

Collaborating with the famous architect Kisho Kurokawa, a park is designed for the cultural centre, and a fitting location is found on a hill beautifully overlooking Kabul. Interviewed by Baylaucq, Kurokawa envisages the park as a microcosm that can perhaps be seen as a metaphor for how Afghan society on a greater scale needs to learn how to function again. He outlines his idea of the people living in symbiosis with both each other and with nature, and how this can be achieved through architecture. Mr. Shiratori on the other hand, although struggling both with securing funding from back home as well as maneuvering through the often chaotic world that is Afghan bureaucracy, he at least manages to create joy in a simpler and more direct way, namely through the medium of amateur magic. Having learned it prior to traveling, Mr. Shiratori goes around Afghanistan performing for school-classes. Having grown up as an orphan in post World War Two Tokyo, he uses his own experiences in discussing with the children the obstacles faced during a childhood that is all too unstable.

After the screening, many of the participants stayed for some mingling at Kafé Haga, having some refreshments and partaking in a small quiz walk prepared by the film club's Emma. Although not having any knowledge whatsoever of Hungarian theatre (being the theme of one of the questions), me and my companion Hamid were fortunate enough to score a maximum number of points, which resulted in us winning the grand prize - one item each of UF's neatly designed book bag. And perhaps even more importantly, inside it there was candy! Having had a great premiere for the spring season, we in the film club are already looking forward to the next screening, which will be "The End of the Line" in two weeks time. You can watch the trailer on this link, or read more about it at the Cinema Politica website

At last, if there is a film in the Cinema Politica repertoire that you would like us to show, or if you are a filmmaker wanting to screen your work, do contact us! All suggestions will be warmly welcomed. In any case, we hope to be seeing you in two weeks time!

Photo by Filip Svensson

// Adam


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