Posted on Monday, October 6th, 2014 by Will Hagle
Return to Hope is an interactive documentary project about Afghanistan’s recent history and plans for the future.
NATO’s longest-ever combat mission drastically transformed life within the borders of Afghanistan, a country whose future remains uncertain. Return to Hope was created to tell the stories of six individuals who are connected to rebuilding Afghanistan. Each interviewee brings a different perspective to the stories of both combat and peace in the country. There’s a multi-chapter story for each individual profiled in the project, giving a depth that can’t be found in traditional documentaries. The project also focuses on a variety of personalities. There’s Nancy Dupree, the “Grandmother of Kabul,” Josh Pitcher, “The Wounded Warrior,” Roya Mahboob, “The Entrepreneur,” Ahmad Sarmast, “The Music Maker,” Mohammad Ali, “The Commando,” and Mujeeb Arez, “The TV Star.”
Each of those labels gives viewers an idea of the stories that will be told, but Return to Hope explores these personalities much more in-depth than most films. There are also more character studies the deeper you get in clicking around the site. In addition to these video profiles, the site also has an extensive recent history of Afgahnistan, with informative timelines and text. The interactive nature of the project is its best quality, as you can skip from one story to the next or explore the site on your own terms. There’s always something new about Afghanistan to be discovered, some uplifting and some tragic. Sections like “The Human Cost,” which discuss the consequences of, among other factors, U.S. involvement in the region, fall into the latter category. Still, understanding the probelms Afghanistan has faced in recent years is an important step in planning for a more hopeful future. Watch and learn.