Synopsis by Josh Ralske
Brian Knappenberger's Life After War documents the efforts of Sarah Chayes to rebuild homes in war-torn southern Afghanistan. Chayes was an accomplished reporter for National Public Radio who found herself wanting to do more than just report. Disenchanted by the American media's biased coverage of the war in Afghanistan (including a CNN edict not to air footage of civilian casualties), Chayes felt like there were tremendous limits on how much impact she could have "as a single reporter." After interviewing the uncle of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Chayes was shocked when he asked her bluntly, "Won't you come back to help us?" She decided to quit her job and go to work for Afghans for a Civil Society, a nonprofit group run by the president's brother, Quyam Karzai. Her first meeting with the president is nearly aborted after he survives an assassination attempt. Eventually, she takes charge of an operation to rebuild Akokolacha, a small town near Kandahar that was destroyed by American bombs. Knappenberger's documentary shows the trials and triumphs of Chayes' effort. The town agrees to supply its own workers, but no one shows up on the first day. The elderly man chosen as the first to have his house rebuilt is unhappy with its proposed dimensions. A scheming warlord with a lucrative American contract to rebuild the local road disrupts Chayes' efforts to obtain stone for the foundations of the houses. Life After War was shown at the 2003 Seattle International Film Festival and aired on the PBS documentary series Frontline.
Afghanistan, battle [war], humanitarian, rebuilding, September 11th, struggle, village, war-correspondent, warlord, war-torn