Thank you to all those who attended the May 26th screening of Back Home Tomorrow at DCTV.
To jog your memories regarding Back Home Tomorrow, which received a Cinereach Award in connection with last year’s Human Rights Watch Film Festival, the film deftly weaves together the stories of two children affected by war during their stays in the caring hands of Italian aid organization Emergency. Yagoub fled with his family from Darfur to the Mayo Refugee Camp in Khartoum. He has to undergo a serious heart operation, but neither his family nor his fellow tribesmen can come up with the money to pay for it. Murtaza is recuperating in a hospital in Kabul after losing his left hand to a landmine.
Eric Talbert of EMERGENCY USA, the international aid organization that provides medical care to the subjects of the film, took questions regarding the organization. One of the film’s co-directors, Fabrizio Lazaretti, had hoped to join the Q&A via skype but was unable to. Audience members had some follow-up questions for Fabrizio which we relayed to him by email. We’ve posted his answers below, in addition to relaying some key points from Eric regarding EMERGENCY USA.
If you haven’t seen the film, or would like to see it again, please add the film to your queue on Netflix. We hope it will soon be available to view in the US as it has recently been released on DVD in Italy (where the directors are from).
Murtaza, one of Back Home Tomorrow's young protagonists
Email Q&A from Fabrizio Lazzaretti
Q: Can you discuss your shooting format and the approach you used to capture Back Home Tomorrow? How were you able to achieve such compelling and extensive coverage during difficult and frightening circumstances?
We shot Back Home Tomorrow on HDV, and used two Sony Z1 cameras and a Sony AE1. [Co-director Paolo Santorini and I] shot for most of the time with two cameras simultaneously to obtain a fluid visual language much closer to narrative cinema than to traditional documentary.
The scenes that are painful to watch in the film unfortunately represent just a fraction of what we witnessed. Being behind cameras helps to distance us from a scene a bit, because we concentrate on the technical aspects of capturing what is unfolding. But the sadness of what we were witnessing did often follow us home at night and stays with us still.
However while we did witness extreme human suffering, and it has definitely left deep scars, the experience also gave us the opportunity to observe great resilience and strength – which was especially powerful to see in the young boys that were the subjects of our film.
Q: How did you become involved with EMERGENCY?
I started working with Emergency in 1999-2000, making a film about the construction of their first hospital in the Panjshir Valley in Afghanistan during the war between the Taliban and the Mujaheddin. After September 11, 2001 we returned to shoot another film on the takeover of Kabul. In 2006, we knew that Emergency wanted to build its first Cardiac Center to treat patients free of charge in Africa, so we decided to join forces again to portray this new experience. We wanted to tell two parallel human stories that were representative of the NGO’s work in two distant countries, but similar in how they handled the long-term effects of war.
Q: How did you find your protagonists?
For the Sudan part of the story, we met Yagoub in the pediatric clinic of Emergency which was located in the Mayo refugee camp. We decided to start to follow his story in parallel of the building of the Center for Cardiac Surgery because his condition could be treated at the hospital when it was complete.
In Kabul, we were beginning to be familiar with patients at that specific clinic when Murtaza arrived with his injuries, and we began to follow him from the moment he was admitted. In his case, it was really fate that caused us to cross paths.
About Emergency USA
Who: Emergency USA, Life Support for Civilian Victims of War and Poverty, an independent nonprofit organization established to raise awareness through education about a culture of peace and respect for human dignity, and to raise funds and community support for medical care, rehabilitation and relief efforts for victims of wars, landmines and poverty.
What: The programs we support provide free-of-charge, high-standard medical and surgical care in war-torn areas. All facilities are designed, built and managed by the Italian NGO EMERGENCY where specialized international staff is committed to training local medical personnel.
Why: In today’s conflicts 90 percent of the victims are civilians, of which 1/3 are children.
When: EMERGENCY USA’s (2005) medical-humanitarian mission is inspired by the innovation, integrity and accomplishments of the international NGO based in Italy, EMERGENCY which has operated independently since 1994.
Where: Afghanistan, Cambodia, Central African Republic, Iraq, Italy, Sierra Leone and Sudan, with a newly opened Pediatric Center in Nyala, South Darfur, in Western Sudan.
EMERGENCY has completed programs in Algeria, Angola, Eritrea, Nicaragua, Rwanda, Serbia and Palestinian Territories.
Getting Involved: For volunteer opportunities that include helping to raise awareness and funds, please contact [email protected].