(Sam Smith, Sher Alam Miskeen Ustad, et al / Blu-ray / NR / 2019 / Lightyear Entertainment - MVD Visual)
Overview: An ex-soldier returns to Afghanistan to find the family of a civilian he accidentally killed during the war. Seeking forgiveness, he puts his life in the hands of the village justice system - the Jirga.
Blu-ray Verdict: Shot in Afghanistan after the Pakistani Secret Service cancelled permission to film, director Benjamin Gilmour took his star Sam Smith and filmed in Taliban-controlled regions of Afghanistan, using some non-actors, a few being former members of the Taliban itself.
It subsequently became Australia's pick for Best Foreign Language Film for the 2019 Oscars and Winner of the Best Independent Film Award from the Australian Academy (AACTA).
It was also the Winner of the coveted $100,000 prize at CineFest Oz and an Official Selection at Toronto and Palm Springs.
Incorporating both the languages of English and Pashto, 'Jirga' is told with the intimacy and realism of a documentary, but is actually a drama set against the background of the immense Afghan landscape; sharp mountains, buttes, stony deserts and dust.
But there are also surreal moments in a pristine, blue lake with a pink swan paddle boat. The young Australian is the outsider and definitely no longer in the dominant position he was.
It's a measured story of the meeting of cultures and a perspective on Australia's longest war that we have not seen before. The action throws up moral and ethical choices for all, making this beautifully crafted thriller concise, powerful and compelling.
The portrayals are rich and the characters are easy to identify with, the camera work superb.
Indeed, the mix of people, both old and young, is very engaging, and we also try to work out how we would interact with these people in the situations encountered.
In closing, and once again, as they are exquisite and so profound to the story being told, the towns and countryside of Afghanistan also play a vital role in the story; much of it being the aforementioned mountainous desert.
So, in short, 'Jirga' has a great mix of tense relationships, coping with a foreign culture and an unforgiving environment, handled with skill and a lightness of touch. Definitely worth the journey. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
Behind-The-Scenes Interview with director Benjamin Gilmour