Afghanistan’s first heavy metal band is District Unknown, a group who taught themselves to play with more enthusiasm than musicality. Discovered in 2009 by musician and filmmaker Travis Beard, he followed them with his camera from early on and coached them in developing their career. However, musical progress is not the only challenge they face: rock music is seen as satanic by religious fanatics in Afghanistan and its practitioners are targeted. The documentary therefore mainly plays out in Kabul’s underground music scene, i.e. cramped practice pads and living rooms, but also at the unique Sound Central music festival.

District Unknown are now famous far beyond their country’s borders, but their popularity also increases the danger for the band’s members, who – just like every other inhabitant of Kabul – have to deal with daily bombings and firefights. Is their love of country, band and family stronger than the call of a more normal life abroad?

Part of Scopitone Cafe, an eclectic mix of documentaries about music and how it is experienced. Stick around for a Q&A with the filmmakers and leading role actor and live music by metal band Lewinksi. The bar is open! Free admission on Thu 1 Feb.

Filmmaker
Travis Beard
Premiere
World premiere
Country
Afghanistan, Australia, India, Turkey, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Year
2018
Medium
File
Length
86’
Language
English, Dari, French, Pashtun
Producer
Brooke Silcox, Travis Beard, Leslie Knott, Bridget Callow - Wright
Production Company
Rockabul Pty Ltd, TigerNest Films, No Thing Productions
Sales
Rockabul Pty Ltd
Writer
Travis Beard
Cinematography
Travis Beard
Editor
Travis Beard, Reginald Simek, Craig Goode
Music
Jason Beard
Cast
Yousef Ahmad Shah