Mountainfilm

2015 Moving Mountains Symposium: Afghanistan

Date: May 22, 2015
Start Time: 9:00 a.m.

The Moving Mountains Symposium is open to all Wilson, Ama Dablam and Patron passholders and includes lunch.

My father, Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, died while trying to end the war in Afghanistan as President Obama’s Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan (SRAP). In December of 2013, exactly three years after his death, I landed in Kabul with my eldest daughter to film a documentary about him, The Diplomat. We were there to try to understand what went wrong on his last diplomatic mission.

He had been a lifelong diplomat, working first in Vietnam and then as the architect of the Dayton Peace Accords, which ended the Bosnian War in 1995. The job of SRAP was created for him to recreate his success in Bosnia; he was tasked by President Obama to take the civilian lead to bring peace to Afghanistan. In nearly two years on the job, he made some incremental improvements but it was an impossible situation that ended — for him — when his heart gave out during a meeting in Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s office.

My father loved Afghanistan, and I can see why: Its history is rich, its people are indelible and its mountains are grand (all attributes that drew him to Telluride, as well). Of course that love for Afghanistan also came with heartbreak because he knew the country was riven by corruption and plagued by war since 1978 when a military coup sent Afghanistan into conflict. The Soviets invaded in 1979, followed by warlords and then the Taliban, which ruled until 2001 when U.S. soldiers arrived for what has now been the longest war in American history.

The military and political situation is important to understand Afghanistan, but to look at it solely through the prism of war is a mistake. That’s why this Moving Mountains Symposium will venture beyond the battlefield as we examine women’s rights, listen to poetry, understand photography and seek other adventures in this magnificent and  rugged country. 

David Holbrooke, Mountainfilm festival director.

What is the past, present and future political situation in Afghanistan?

Symposium

Fawzia Koofi was born the 19th daughter of an Afghan village leader and was originally left to die in the sun by her mother. That was only the beginning of hardships for Koofi, but the spirited young woman went on to thrive as a female politician and change maker, becoming the first female speaker in the Afghan Parliament. Her memoir, The Favored Daughter, tells her story and includes the multiple attempts on her life and the expectations she has for her own daughters.

In Person:
  • Fawzia Koofi
  • What options are there for an exit strategy for America that will leave behind a stable Afghanistan?

    Symposium

    Rina Amiri was born in Kabul and lived there until 1973. She became a diplomat, focusing on political and human rights issues for the United Nations before going to work as a senior aide to Ambassador Richard Holbrooke. Amiri is now employed by the UN on the Standby Team in the Department of Political Affairs.

    In Person:
  • Rina Amiri
  • Why did the U.S. decide to keep 10,000 American troops in Afghanistan?

    Symposium

    Why did the U.S. decide to keep 10,000 American troops in Afghanistan, and what does that mean to the current Afghan government and to the men and women who are serving there?


    Sebastian Junger has directed a trilogy of films about war that includes Restrepo and Korengal . His latest, The Last Patrol, examines the difficulty in returning from combat and reentering civilian life. His film about the late photographer Tim Hetherington, Which Way is the Front Line From Here?, screened at Mountainfilm 2013, and his latest book is simply called War.

    In Person:
  • Sebastian Junger
  • Why do Afghan photographers have to learn to tell their own story?

    Symposium

    Massoud Hossaini was born in Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation. After his family fled to Iran, he developed an interest in photography, a dangerous profession in a totalitarian state. In 2001, Hossaini returned to his homeland and 10 years later was covering a religious ceremony in Kabul when a suicide bomber attack killed 70 people. Hossaini’s resulting photo of a survivor, “The Girl in the Green Dress,” won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Photography. He is featured, along with his wife Farzana Wahidy, in Frame by Frame.

    In Person:
  • Massoud Hossaini
  • How can photography shape our perceptions & affect the future of Afghan women?

    Symposium

    Farzana Wahidy was born in Kandahar, Afghanistan, in 1984 and grew up during the Soviet invasion, the bloody civil war that followed and five years of suppressive Taliban rule. At the age of 17, she discovered photography after joining the NGO Aina (which was founded by 2014 Mountainfilm guest photojournalist Reza). Photography became her passion and a way to give Afghan women a voice. Wahidy’s work has since appeared in publications around the world, and she, along with her husband Massoud Hossaini, is featured in the documentary Frame by Frame.

    In Person:
  • Farzana Wahidy
  • How does the bicycle represent freedom for women in Afghanistan?

    Symposium

    Sarah Menzies is working on a film called Afghan Cycles that follows a group of Afghan women challenging long-held gender barriers and putting their safety at risk for the pleasure of riding a bicycle.

    In Person:
  • Sarah Menzies
  • What are the risks and rewards of adventure in Afghanistan?

    Symposium

    Mike Libecki is a climber and explorer who was named National Geographic Adventurer of the Year in 2013. He has traveled to more than 100 countries, including Afghanistan where he put up several first ascents. He is the subject of the documentary, The Man Behind the Mask.

    In Person:
  • Mike Libecki
  • How stable can Afghanistan be in the future?

    Symposium

    Matthew Rosenberg is a New York Times reporter who was ejected from Afghanistan by then-president Hamid Karzi. He has continued to cover national security issues for the newspaper and will join David Holbrooke in conversation.

    In Person:
  • Matthew Rosenberg