Panoramas featuring rich greens and yellows, vast and snowy mountain ranges, the deep-blue hues of expansive lakes and valleys – this is the kind of natural idyll that stirs the imagination of landscape painters – yet these aren’t the kind of images typically evoked by the mention of Afghanistan. Popular amongst hippies during the 1970s, Afghanistan was once a much sought after destination for its extraordinary natural beauty – a fact easily buried under decades of media images saturated with violence.
It was this natural beauty, and the everyday life of Afghans with an impassioned storytelling culture, that co-directors Alexandria Bombach and Mo Scarpelli sought to foreground in their scintillating documentary, Frame by Frame. Featuring portraits of four photojournalists, the film explores the emergence of a free-press in Afghanistan after the six-year prohibition on photography during the oppressive Taliban regime. As Alexandria Bombach describes, “It was more than just a ban on photography, it was all media, and all Afghan people’s voices; they banned anything that had to do with the human image.”
“I didn’t know what it would mean not to have photography in your life. But asking the photo-journalists, and watching them flip through photographs of their past, they were so sentimental, just as we would be flipping through our own childhood photos.”