Voice of the Moon (aka Afghan Voices) (Rel. 1990)
Voice of the Moon has been released as a part of Subversive Cinema's Dust Devil box-set.
Voice of the Moon isn't that much of a documentary. It's more of a 30 minute series of images Stanley recorded while he was in Afghanistan in the late 80's with some Mujahadin rebels [and also the late war journalist Carlos Mavroleon (1958- 1998), who worked as a producer]. Voice follows the their daily attempts to survive in a country being torn to pieces by the Russian invasion. Originally made for UNICEF, children's charity, and to be aired by BSB. The broadcaster passed the film due to its lack of any actual narration aside from a Sufi poem. Instead, the images are accompanied by Simon Boswell's score, bringing the whole thing closer to a music video.
"I think Voice of the Moon is probably more western than any of [my other work]. It's stuck in a world of mud houses and people on horses wearing poncho type apparel, and with its slide guitar soundtrack as well, it's learning that way... and all the dark faced children running out to meet the men on horseback and artillery fire going on over the hills. It reminds me of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly a lot..." [Richard Stanley in Kinokaze.]
Even back then the political situation of Afghanistan was enough to capture the interest of, say, Sylvester Stallone, who told his version of the conflict in Rambo III. And what goes around... After 9/11, Afghanistan caught the world's eye again and has since met yet another civil war accomppanied by an external threat.
Funnily enough, Voice apparently earned Stanley a gig with the US goverment around the year 2000, when some of the footage was screened in a confrence held by George W. Bush. Stanley was then hired to do some night vision goggle tests with military hardware, shooting footage in an abandoned mine in Wales. He did some testing of his own on the side, mainly for the upcoming In a Season of Soft Rains.
Stanley himself - while having no trouble with getting his experiments funded by American taxpayers - was quite surprised about the offer. While some other people like Mohsen Makhmalbaf (Kandahar) make films about the more conventional sides of the Afghan culture, he himself is mainly interested in "wizards and witches and totems and werewolves and all kind of weird and freaky fucking shit that would scare the crap out of the American government". [Originally appeared in Creature Corner.]