Directed by CAROL DYSINGER
Camp Victory, Afghanistan is about the re-building of an army. With 300 hours of tape shot over years, filmmaker Carol Dysinger set out to tell this story from both an Afghan and American perspective through the eyes of two men. It is the first film to examine the training of the new Afghan military. It is also a story about the depths and limits of an unlikely friendship in war.
General Fazaludin Sayar, is a veteran who has been fighting for Afghanistan since the age of 13, and his face shows thirty years of war fighting. Stronger than his wariness of foreigners is his deep hunger for peace. He is determined to build his army, with or in spite visiting foreign armies.
The first US contingent sent to train General Sayar’s army is the Vermont National Guard. They arrive with good intentions and a can-do attitude. But they witness corruption and thievery, lose their beloved medic in a battle where Afghans desert and betray them.
Then a new contingent follows lead by an American Col. Shute, a lifelong Guardsmen with no combat experience. He seems an unlikely mentor to General Sayar. But unlike so many before him, Sayar sits and listens.
But slowly Sayar begins revealing the truth of his past, which is intimately intertwined with the historical shifts in his country over the past 30 years. As Shute’s understanding deepens, they work to create an army from untrained and largely illiterate enlistees. The situation worsens around them, and authorities suddenly hand the job of training over to the Italian Army. Sayar’s frustration grows. Finally, with Shute’s backing, Sayar lets the Special Forces, Italians, and Americans have it in one big meeting. It is a watershed moment. Shute must return home but swears he will come back. Before he can, Sayar dies, as men do in war. Shute remains to this day, deeply conflicted about the mission, but not about the love he has for his friend.
In Camp Victory, Afghanistan we witnesses the gap between policy and reality in training the new Afghan National Army. The film tells the story of a battle-tested Afghan Brigadier General and the friendship he develops with an American Colonel enlisted with helping him turn ragtag groups of uncertain, impoverished men into a trained, standing Afghan National Army. An unexpected camaraderie is captured between them despite Sayar’s growing exasperation with the US, and their growing friendship reveal the human cost of an impossible policy.
The film is an intimate, realistic account of the constant cultural and professional conflicts between the Afghans and the visiting armies. While lack of trust runs strong, stronger are the tight emotional bonds sometimes formed between leaders in the rebuilding of a nation.