Tell Spring Not To Come This Year Premieres in Berlinale
Afghanistan-set documentary sheds light on the local army’s fight against the Taliban
For the majority of westerners, the War in Afghanistan came to a close in 2013 with the withdrawal of troops and the transfer of security duties from NATO to local forces. But for the majority of Afghans, the battle against the Taliban still very much wages on, as evidenced in the harrowing you-are-there combat documentary Tell Spring Not to Come This Year.
Tracking an Afghan National Army squad fighting insurgent forces in the southwestern province of Helmand, this co-directed feature by Saeed Taji Farouky and Michael McEvoy offers an extremely rare look at life on the firing line for the war-torn nation’s indigenous soldiers. Immersive and at times upsetting, yet vital to anyone interested in the aftermath of a conflict that began back in 2001 (if not back in 1978), this Berlin Panorama premiere should find additional fest play, as well as VOD and public TV slots, in nations belonging to the former U.S. coalition.
Imbedding themselves with the 3rd Brigade of the ANA’s Heavy Weapons Company, and focusing primarily on two characters – the rookie private, Sunnatullah, and his hardened commander, Jalaluddin – filmmakers Farouky (who shot the footage) and McEvoy (who recorded sound) cover all aspects of army life, from the monotonous labor to downtime in the barracks to battle scenes where the bullets fly and the casualties are frighteningly real.
While the movie starts off rather mildly and almost like an Afghan episode of Cops, with Jalaluddin’s men kicking down doors or interrogating farmers about their bountiful opium crops (“They belong to my cousin!” one of them answers), things take a turn for the worse when enemy forces begin encroaching on their territory.
It’s then that Spring – whose title refers to the season in which the Taliban wage war – heads to some rare and highly unsettling places, Farouky’s camera accompanying the troops as shots ring out in all directions and men fall to the ground, wounded or dead. A first skirmish near the 3rd Brigade’s home base ends without major casualties, but a second one in the town of Sangin turns into a desperate standoff where several soldiers are hit and help takes too long to arrive.
Commander Jalaluddin is absent from these scenes, having sent his squad off with the best advice he can muster up: “When you’re scared, then death is near.” But it’s clear from their dazed and weary faces that these men are constantly frightened for their lives, and not necessarily experienced enough to deal with enemies who have been fighting the same battle for decades, with much more seemingly at stake. For the young troopers of the ANA, war means a steady job (though not always a steady paycheck, as one soldier complains). For the unseen members of the Taliban, it’s a way of life.
While Spring concludes with a bang, it’s far from a pleasant one, and the end titles list the names of over two dozen soldiers killed in action during the production. The fact that Farouky and McEvoy survived to tell their tale is a relief, though not at all comforting given the surrounding bloodshed – which, considering the political climate in Afghanistan, does not look to end anytime soon. If anything, the filmmakers deserve credit for refusing to shy away from such realities, while bringing attention to a conflict that most of the world has forgotten. They have gone where few directors dare to venture.
Production companies: Tourist with a Typewriter, Ponda Films, NHK Cosmomedia Europe
Directors: Saeed Taji Farouky, Michael McEvoy
Producers: Saeed Taji Farouky, Michael McEvoy, Elizabeth C. Jones
Executive producers: Scott Brown, Robert Elliott, David Kennedy, Nick Quested
Director of photography: Saeed Taji Farouky
Editor: Gareth Keogh
Composer: Joe Lewis
Sales agent: Sabotoeur
No rating, 87 minutes
Bella Vita garners Audience Choice Award at La Costa Film Festival
The network's film division took home best feature documentary for Brothers in Exile and best documentary short for Tommy and Frank. (Brothers in Exile also won the Audience Award for feature documentary.)
The festival kicked off Sept. 18, 2014, withFrank vs. God, starring Henry Cusick andEver Carradine, at the Omni La Costa Resort and Spa in Carlsbad, Calif.
Throughout its four-day run, the festival screened 43 films from 13 countries and drew a number of prominent filmmakers including Ed Harris and Ron Shelton(Bull Durham). More than 4,500 attended this year's incarnation.
This year, the festival launched a partnership with Peter Guberand Mike Tollin's Mandalay Sports Media to co-curate the festival's sports-themed narrative, documentary and shorts programs.
The 2014 jury featured a roster of industry professionals, including producer Cash Warren, Boys & Girls Clubs of Carlsbad CEO Brad Holland, Emmy winner Ira Opper, KUSI-TV sports director Paul Rudy and former San Diego Chargers kicker John Carney.
A complete list of winners can be found below:
Sports Jury Competition Winners:
Feature Film: Brothers in Exile (ESPN Films)
Short Film: Tommy and Frank (ESPN Films)
Audience Choice Awards:
Narrative Feature: Una Vida, Richie Adams
Foreign Narrative Feature: White Lies, Dana Rotberg
Documentary Feature: Brothers in Exile, Mario Diaz
Documentary Feature: Bella Vita, Jason Baffa
Short Film: Tandem, Matthew Douglas Helfgot, Jared Hillman
Foreign Short Film: Bis gleich, Benjamin Wolff
Honorable Mention: h2mexico, Brent Deal
Legacy Award: Ed Harris
"Ambassador of Sports" Award: Ron Shelton
High School Short Film Competition Winner: Sofia, Jason Phillips and Brandon Chase of Canyon Crest High School
Bella Vita Releases Worldwide
BELLA VITA RELEASES WORLDWIDE on DVD, iTunes, Digital VOD AND IN SELECT THEATERS VIA TUGG.COM
Los Angeles, CA (September 22, 2014) – After a whirlwind year of festival screenings worldwide including multiple audience, cinematography and best feature awards, Jason Baffa's Bella Vita releases worldwide today on DVD, iTunes, Digital VOD and in select theaters in the U.S. via the on-demand theatrical platform, TUGG.com.
Bella Vita (www.bellavitafilm.com) is Baffa's chronicle of Chris Del Moro's pilgrimage back to his ancestral Italian homeland with elite professional surfers Dave Rastovich, Lauren Lyndsey Hill, Conner & Parker Coffin and Italian stand-outs Alessandro Ponzanelli and Leonardo Fioravanti as they explore the burgeoning surf culture blossoming amongst the Mediterranean’s oldest and cherished traditions.
“We’ve had an amazing international festival run,” notes L.A. based filmmaker, Baffa, “ I see it as a film about life as told through the eyes of these surfers traveling in Italy. I’m so honored how audiences throughout the world have embraced it’s introspective themes and I’m excited to finally show it to the world.”
“A stunning piece of visual art" as reviewed by the London Arts News, Bella Vita has screened at festivals in 8 countries, winning awards in the U.S., France, UK and Germany.
“The film has a lot of heart. I see it as a fantastic Italian meal, where course after course something is served up that is better than before,” says renown free-surf professional and environmental activist Dave Rastovich.
Shot in 35mm and supported by its core community via a Kickstarter finishing campaign, the visually-stunning coming-of-age surf journey features Chris Del Moro tracing the roots of his Italian heritage in a tribute to the grandparents who raised him and on a hunt for the elusive waves that captured his imagination as a young boy.
Rollicking to a superb surf film style soundtrack including a track by Grammy Award Winning Artists, Mumford & Sons, the film explores the history of a passionate Italian surfing subculture in a reflective look at the ways this group has sustained its traditions in the face of globalization and hyper-commoditization by embracing time-tested methods focusing on sustainability and craftsmanship.
Staying true to its grass roots origins, the film is currently available in major U.S. theaters via TUGG.com, an on-demand theatrical distributor which, like Kickstarter, allows passionate film audiences to support and promote local screening events by pre-purchasing tickets toward an activation threshold. Anyone can request and promote a screening within their immediate community and the film has seen a remarkable turnout among surf lifestyle enthusiasts and retail outlets sponsoring screenings around the country. Visit www.bellavitafilm.com/see-film for info on local screenings and on how to host a screening.
Bella Vita's custom-designed collector's edition DVD release features an eight-panel package with postcards and artwork by Del Moro as well as commentary from Baffa and Del Moro, a companion "making-of" feature and English, Italian, Spanish and German subtitles.
Complimenting the film’s roll-out, a series of “Filmmaker Edition” wines are in the works via Italian cast-member and wine-maker, Piergiorgio Castellani, under the Zio Baffa label.
Additionally, special edition publisher Arkitip has released a limited edition companion book, Arkitip #0059 - Bella Vita, with a selection of stills, interviews, sketches, backstory and artwork created by Del Moro. Each issue includes a custom Bella Vita Velcro-wallet thanks to the support of Quiksilver.
Filmmakers and Cast are available for interviews upon request. Photos and editorial assets are also available upon request.
For more information on Bella Vita and to view the film trailer, please visit
Media Contact: Greg Schultz / email@example.com
DVD Distribution: James Ravenel / firstname.lastname@example.org
Theatrical/Digital/TV: David Kennedy / email@example.com
Bella Vita Wins Audience Choice Award!
Bella Vita wins the Audience Choice award at the 2014 Costa Rican International Film Festival
Bella Vita will be making its French Premiere at the International Surf Film Festival d'Anglet. Mark your calendars for Friday July 11th at 6pm.
For more info & tickets: http://surf-film.com/
Newport Surf Fest
Stoked to be kicking off Surf Fest IV for newportFILM on Thursday July 10th in Queen Anne Square.
Make sure to RSVP and come meet Director, Jason Baffa by RSVPing here: http://bit.ly/1jkYUWS
If you're in Honolulu, join Jason Baffa at the Ward Village Courtyard Cinema for a screening of Bella Vita. This is an outdoor screening, so you'll have to bring your own chair.
Starting June 12, Ward Village, in partnership with the Hawaii International Film Festival and Consolidated Theatres, will host Courtyard Cinema, a new monthly film series that will showcase a selection of HIFF curated films!
Check out www.wardvillagecourtyardcinema.com for all the details.
Danielle / Gold Star Child
Letter writing and coping with grief
Jeanette Chervony / Gold Star Child
REMEMBERING OUR VETERANS AND THE FALLEN
Colleen Shine / Gold Star Child
NATIONAL POW/MIA RECOGNITION DAY