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© Fiction 2.0/Hamburg

Production Report featured in
German Films Quarterly 02/2012

In September 2009, an American fighter jet responded to a call by German forces and struck two fuel tankers hijacked by Taliban insurgents in the Afghan town of Kunduz. The action resulted in the killing of between 90 and 130 civilians and had far-reaching political repercussions in Germany.

The air-strike also provided the inspiration for Stefan and Simona Gieren's new film KUNDUZ which focuses on the German-Afghan photographer Faisal who witnessed the bombardment. Seriously wounded, he manages to get on board a plane leaving Afghanistan and begins documenting his story via his mobile phone. As the crew and a doctor try to fight for his life, Faisal tells the true story of this fatal incident....

Gieren, who wrote the screenplay in only four days and nights, points out that he drew on eye-witness reports. “It was important for us to show the other side which we as Germans wouldn’t otherwise have any access to because of the distance and available information.”

The fact that Gieren has regularly lived and worked in Afghanistan on an aid project since 2006 meant that production was able to re-enact the incident on the ground in Afghanistan: “German Afghanistan films are mainly shot in countries like Morocco, but the real Afghanistan – the landscapes, the people – is so unique that you immediately see the difference,” the film’s DoP Sin Huh explains.

The two lead actors – the newcomer Arash Marandi and Ulrich Matthes – were on board long before shooting began and collaborated with the director on their characters and dialogues, while his wife Simona rehearsed with them over several months during the script’s development.

“It is perhaps unusual that there were such long rehearsals, but, early on, it was clear that this story largely functions through the actors, she says.

“KUNDUZ is a crossover between film and theater,” Stefan Gieren adds. “We want to challenge with our film. Our soldiers do a fantastic job in Afghanistan. And so for that very reason, we think the explanation that ‘they didn't have any other choice here’ is too simple.”

Genre Drama
Category Short
Directors Stefan Gieren, Simona Gieren
Screenplay Stefan Gieren
Cinematography Sin Huh
Cast Arash Marandi, Ulrich Matthes, Proschat Madani, Julia Dietze, Jeff Caster, Leili Novi
Producer Stefan Gieren
Production Company Fiction 2.0
 German, English, Dari
Shooting Dates August-September 2011, March 2012
With backing from MOIN Filmförderung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein

Fiction 2.0
Rappstr. 6
20146 Hamburg/Germany
phone +49-40-66 88 47 98