The Miscreants of Taliwood

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This isn't Hollywood, and it isn't Bollywood: this is Taliwood. Australian filmmaker and visual artist George Gittoes spent two years in the Taliban-occupied north of Pakistan. The surreal war situation there doesn't stop local filmmakers from making lowbrow movies with large doses of half-naked women, action heroes, and pulp fiction. "We want to see the local breasts," one Peshawar video store owner declares, in reference to the need for local film production. The prevailing Taliban moralists are less appreciative of this, expressing their discontent by burning video stores to the ground. Gittoes gets to know the actors and actresses who play roles that put their lives in danger. Summing up the mentality of the fundamentalists, one actor remarks that, "Making bombs is good, making movies is against Islam." When Gittoes hears that the production of a TV movie only costs $4, 000, he decides to make two of them. This leads to a film shoot full of hilarious gunfights, fake blood, and scenes with dwarves and action heroes. At the same time, he discovers that the Taliban is also disseminating a form of entertainment that people are just as greedy for: recordings of real beheadings and executions, not to mention propaganda films about Al-Qaida training camps. In the end, the largest film industry turns out to be the war on terror.

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