A season of films by George Gittoes will screen on SBS and SBS2 throughout November, including Snow Monkey, Soundtrack To War, Love City Jalalabad, Rampage, and The Miscreants.
SBS Guide

25 Oct 2016 - 2:21 PM  UPDATED 25 Oct 2016 - 2:29 PM

Snow Monkey - Sunday 6 November at 10.30pm on SBS

One of Australia's greatest photojournalists takes you on a riveting first-hand journey through an Afghanistan you'll never see on the news.

For almost 50 years, activist artist George Gittoes has stood on the frontlines of the world's most brutal conflicts and borne witness to the best and the worst of humanity. Now living in Afghanistan's remote, Taliban-infested Jalalabad province, Gittoes turns his attention to the lives of the children and outcasts of this war-torn land.

In Snow Monkey, Gittoes paints a portrait of a Jalalabad seething with humanity, adversity and hope – focusing on three gangs of children: the Ghostbusters, persecuted Kochi boys who hawk exorcisms of bad luck and demons; the Snow Monkeys, who sell ice cream to support their families; and the Gangsters, a razor gang led by a nine-year-old antihero called Steel, terrifying to the core but still capable of experiencing aspects of the childhood seemingly taken from him.

With a deeply humane vision that won him the Sydney Peace Prize, Gittoes shows us the unseen nature of Afghanistan's politics, culture and society, up close and startlingly personal.

Soundtrack to War - Monday 7 November at 10.30pm on SBS2

Soundtrack to War showcases spontaneous music performances by a striking cast - from battle weary soldiers to shell shocked Iraqi civilians – all under the blaring Iraqi sun, with the backdrop of a destroyed city and dust and the distraction of gunfire and bursting mortar shells.

American culture came into Iraq, wired into its tanks and helicopters – a live soundtrack to war , with lyrics such as ‘Let the Bodies Hit the Floor’, ‘Round Out the Tank’ and ‘Bombs Over Baghdad’ being memorized by every soldier and forever linked to the violent events they accompanied . As the war extended into its second year , many started writing and performing their own songs. It was rock, rap and roll for the Americans and music of lament and loss for the Iraqis .

For most soldiers War was Heavy Metal. Lyrics in Metal n’Gore,  were the purest expression on this hellfire ride : rappers battle at Uday’s Palace in the bullring saying it like it is – it’s a Baghdad thing! R&B soothed the longings of separated lovers , Country acted like letters from home, ballads of flags and fallen friends helped with the grief, Gospel summoned the Almighty as Baghdad’s version of the Bee Gee’s dug underground into the rubble...

This film takes us on the whole emotional roller coaster of the MTV generation who have found themselves in the hell of real war – “they just don’t die!” and used music to help stay alive and sane.

Soundtrack to War was devised, shot, directed and produced by George Gittoes. Gittoes traveled alone to Iraq  four times – he was there during Saddam’s last days, was there when Shock and Awe struck and there to meet the American troops when they came rolling into Baghdad. He returned when the Coalition occupation had gained a tenuous hold, and remained during the bloody reversals of April May 2004.

Rampage - Tuesday 8 November at 10.30pm on SBS2

Rampage follows a premise set up by soldier musician Elliott Lovett, when, during the making of Soundtrack to War, Iraq, he boasted, “we get shot at more in Miami than in Baghdad.”

Rampage takes us to a battered project, to meet the Elliot’s family and the Brown Sub community living in conditions similar to an African shanty township but unexpected in the United States. With violent crime so intense the Metropolitan Police rarely risk an investigation, gun carrying drug gangs substitute for law and order. The three ways out for youth are joining the army, music and death.

When a 16-year-old hit man murders Marcus during the making of the documentary, Denzell adopts the stage name of Demo and steps in to carry forward the family’s hopes that their musical talent will get them out of the ghetto.

Urban music legends Swizz Beatz, Fat Joe, DJ Kaled and Steve Rifkind appear in the film to give an extraordinary endorsement to the validity of Demo’s young genius.

Rampage gets us into the inner workings of an urban culture, which has risen out of the poverty of America’s poorest communities to become the dominant popular influence on world youth, music and fashion.

The Miscreants - Wednesday 9 November at 10.30pm on SBS2

Filmmaker George Gittoes takes us on an extraordinary journey into a forbidden zone: the remote tribal belt of Pakistan's northwest frontier, just a cave or two from the world's most wanted man.

Love City, Jalalabad - Thursday 10 November at 11pm on SBS2

In 1964, when Bob Dylan released “The Times They Are a-Changin'”, the song helped start a youth revolution. 50 years later, the youth of Jalalabad, Afghanistan have had enough gloom and doom and want to use their creativity to bring freedom and joy. Their first step is to rename Jalalabad to Love City by parading a billboard through the streets, proclaiming it a place of love and no more war.

This is the beginning of an amazingly joyous ride, as the group attempts to take their Cinema Circus to the notoriously militant Tora Bora mountains. Along the way, a 19 year old actor becomes the first female director of a Pashtun film; a 9 year old girl, Medina, becomes a movie star and a young actor tries to use his art to convince the family of the girl he loves, to agree to their wedding. Regularly the group encounters the forces of darkness, corruption and ignorance, but their optimism sees them safely through.

Love City, Jalalabad is a feelgood movie which will reaffirm your hope for Afghanistan and that love can succeed where war fails.

More on the guide:
Interview with documentarian George Gittoes
The Guide writer Jenna Martin sat with filmmaker George Gittoes to discuss his work ahead of the release of his new book Blood Mystic.
For the love of the Highlands: A cinematic trek through the landscape of time-travel fantasy Outlander
Stoking the embers of romance in Outlander is the gorgeous Scottish Highlands setting. As Sarah Ward explains, on-screen romance has a rich history in the region.
Five times I was blown away by Wild Sri Lanka
Wild Sri Lanka, a three-part documentary series that explores Sri Lanka’s sublime natural beauty and diverse local wildlife is full of humbling moments you won’t soon forget.
One serve of TV with a dash of social conscience
For The Love Of Meat with Matthew Evans advocates the need for ethical manufacturing and consumption of meat. But Matthew Evans isn’t the only televisual troubadour with a specific message.