Christophe de Ponfilly – Author and Director
When Christophe de Ponfilly travelled to Afghanistan for the first time in July 1981 it was under cover, in order to document the Afghan resistance against the soviet occupation. His resulting first documentary, Une vallée contre un empire, entirely shot in the Panjshir valley, was broadcast by many TV stations worldwide. From then on Ponfilly stayed involved with the Afghan cause and was particularly impressed with Ahmad Shah Massoud’s battle as he continued to report about the drama taking place in Afghanistan. In 1984 he, again secretly, returned to the valley of Panjshir where in the meantime most villages had been destroyed by soviet forces. For his film Les combattants de l’insolence he received the Prix Albert Londres in 1985. Thereafter he made two films about soviet captives: Les damnés de l’URSS and Soldats perdus. 1987 he filmed Massoud, portrait d’un Afghan. After the withdrawal of the soviet troops Christophe de Ponfilly and Frédéric Laffont shot a two hour film about the marks the war had left on the lives of Afghans as well as Russians (Poussières de guerre – Le chant des armes et le temps des larmes). After the Mujahideen occupied Kabul in 1992 the film was shown on Afghan television several times. 1993 Ponfilly returned to Afghanistan again to document the war and to film in the Afghan capital this time. It turned out to be a sad travel diary in view of an ignoble war (Kaboul au bout du monde). 1997 he filmed Massoud l’Afghan, a subjective docu adventure which became an international success. The film shows intelligibly how the West, despite its omnipresent media, underestimated the given situation, and failed to support an independent Afghanistan when it would have been imperative to do so.
Beside his films (40 within 20 years) Christophe de Ponfilly wrote several books (Le clandestin dans la guerre des résistants afghans 1985; Poussières de guerre 1990; Massoud l’Afghan 1998; Vies clandestines, nos années afghanes 2001; Lettre ouverte à Joseph Kessel sur l’Afghanistan, une envie de hurler 2002 ; Scoops 2002).
L’étoile du soldat is his first and only feature film.