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Kabul Portraits
WRITTEN BY
Ariel Nasr

CREATED BY
Ariel Nasr and Jeremy Mendes

PRODUCED BY
The National Film Board of Canada

DESIGNED AND DEVELOPED BY
Switch United

ADDITIONAL DEVELOPMENT BY
We+Are

VIDEO FOOTAGE
Directed, shot and edited by Ariel Nasr

PHOTOGRAPHY BY
Mikhail Galustov

B&W PHOTOGRAPHY BY
Christopher Yap

SOUND RECORDING BY
Christopher Yap

SOUND DESIGN BY
Joshua Stevenson

STORY EDITING BY
Jen Moss

COPY EDITING BY
Stacey Sellars

National Film Board
PRODUCER
Annette Clarke + NFB Digital Studio

EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS
Annette Clarke, Loc Dao and Ravida Din

CREATIVE TECHNOLOGIST
Loc Dao

OPERATIONS AND PRODUCTION MANAGER
Janine Steele

PROJECT MANAGER
Laura Mitchell

STUDIO ADMINISTRATORS
John Lutz, Leslie Anne Poyntz, Jennifer Roworth

PRODUCTION COORDINATORS
Vanessa Larsen and Stacey Sellars

MARKETING MANAGER
Tammy Peddle

PUBLICIST
Pat Dillon

WEB MARKETING
Kathryn Ruscito

SYSTEM ADMINISTRATORS
Sergiu Raul Sucio and Bruno Gervasi

Switch United
CREATIVE DIRECTOR
Chris Waind

PROJECT MANAGERS
Jaybe Allanson and Selena Paskalidis

DEVELOPER
Dana Brousseau

Music
"STARS ALIGNED, WEB SPUN"
Written and performed by Oren Ambarchi
From the album Grapes From the Estate
Courtesy Southern Lord Records and Oren Ambarchi
Special thanks
Mohammed Akram, Fahim Dashty, Attaula Amanzada, Amanullah Mojadidi, Alka Sadat and Yasmin Yarmal
Kabul Portraits
Kabul Portraits is a co-creation by Afghan-Canadian filmmaker Ariel Nasr and interactive designer Jeremy Mendes of the NFB Digital Studio. The project brings to light a range of storytellers: artists, journalists, filmmakers, actors and photographers, from Kabul -- a city normally not in the public eye for its arts, but for its problems.

A portrait of any kind is a composed image; a direct visual study that reveals a subject’s essence. Though originally a painterly practice, photography and portraiture have had a long relationship, due to the relative affordability of a photograph. In the interactive medium, the art of portraiture has once again evolved, becoming that much more accessible.

Kabul Portraits reveals much about the lives of its subjects and the challenges they face. It also points to the evolution of modern portraiture in the digital interactive medium: from static to flexible, from forthright, to nuanced.

In this kind of portraiture, what a person looks like is only the beginning. What they sound like, the objects they value, the trail of photographic evidence of their lives they have collected over time, all these aspects form part of the picture.

Like the city they inhabit, these portrait subjects must be considered in the context of their history, as well as their current reality.

In Kabul, there is a longstanding tradition of sidewalk photographers using simple pinhole cameras to take elegant, old-fashioned looking portraits. Blurred at the edges, the grainy images form in real time
while the customer waits. It’s a practice that dates back many decades, and like many old ways in 21st Century Afghanistan, it survives, and thrives.

Ariel Nasr pays homage to the ancient city of Kabul’s modern photographic history through the inclusion of pinhole camera images in this interactive photo and audio journey.

Determined to address some of the many stereotypes about his father’s country, Nasr has charted a radical departure from the typical news media image of Afghans; one that acknowledges the complexity and beauty of urban life in a society affected by years and years of foreign intervention.

Reaching past the preconceptions about both subject and form, the project also includes still portraits, moving footage, and audio recordings of Kabul residents from a wide variety of professions and social roles.

The experience as a whole suggests a set of relationships and social dynamics beyond each individual portrait. By allowing individuals to tell their own stories, and linking these individuals through a web of associations, Kabul Portraits creates an environment in which the realities and relationships of this society can be pondered without news-oriented editorial intervention.

In the authenticity and relative quiet of this environment, a new and more multi-faceted picture of a place and its people begins to form.