It’s Fiji Time!

In Fiji on January 25, 2013 at 22:25

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Recently I saw a random photo about Beachcomber Resort – an idyllic choral atoll deep in the South Pacific just off the coast of Fiji.  As it happens, in 1995 I visited this island.  It was the idyllic picture-postcard-perfect paradise you imagine the South Pacific to be.  But I had just come to Beachcomber from Nadi, Fiji where I saw the real side of Fiji.  Most tourists only go to the resorts in the islands, rarely going into the main islands of Fiji - Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, asides from perhaps visiting the capital Suva.  It was here that you get to see the real Fiji and the warmth and friendliness of its people.   Coming from New Zealand, it was my first time seeing a “developing” nation up front.  The disparity between the luxury tourist resorts, and the poverty of the average Fijian was stark.  

Addicted in Afghanistan: Beautiful and bleak

In Afghanistan on September 19, 2012 at 23:34

Here is a Blog of the film which was recently screened at the Frontline Club – and printed on the Frontline Club Website, reproduced from here.

on September 14, 2012 12:04 PM

By Merryn Johnson

Jawed Taiman’s award winning film, Addicted in Afghanistan, which screened at Frontline on 13 September, is beautiful and utterly bleak. The documentary follows the lives of two young boys, best friends Zahir and Jabar, through the streets of Kabul. The film moves between their sober, childish hilarity and the painful grips of their heroin addiction, which they repeatedly try to beat in a city devastated by war and poverty.

The film’s mood is one of hopelessness. The boys, who guess their age to be between 16 and 17 at the beginning of the film, have been using since they were as young as eight-years-old. And despite their families’ encouragement to get treatment, they are surrounded by addicts: mother, father, uncle, younger sister. Such addiction has become endemic in Kabul and wider Afghanistan where over one million Afghans are estimated to be addicted to drugs, especially heroin. And up to 40% of these addicts are women and children.

After the screening, producer Sharron Ward, was at the Frontline Club to answer question as was Taiman via Skype from Kabul.

Vote Democracy!

In Libya on August 22, 2012 at 20:41

July 2012:  I should be writing this post whilst listening to the hum of my Air Conditioning unit, with my toes dipped in the water leaking from it, sat on the balcony of my Hotel overlooking the mosque and the Mediterranean.  Instead of the unrelenting humidity of the Tripolitanian climes, I am writing this from the far less agreeable yet strangely sunny garden of my home in London.  Certain events (more on that later), have meant my second filming trip to Libya was cut unceremoniously short.  But I’m going to write about some of my experiences and observations about my recent jaunt back to Tripoli to continue filming Libya: After the Fall.

Room with a view

I was back in my Hotel, which we had affectionately dubbed “Hotel California” and was back in the same room that I had stayed on my first filming trip.  It was like I had returned home.  Everything was the same – apart from a few significant changes.  It was hot.  Incredibly hot.  The day I arrived it was 42 degrees.  Stepping off the plane was like literally walking into a sweltering furnace.


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