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Gianvito documentary examines Afghanistan


Associate Professor John Gianvito

Associate Professor John Gianvito is taking a hard look at the state of Afghanistan this Friday, February 22, with the American premiere of his project Far From Afghanistan at the Museum of Modern Art.

Created with four filmmakers just before the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Gianvito said he was motivated after realizing how little American media directly addressed the war in our day-to-day routines.

“It seemed to me that unless one had a direct connection to the war, a family member or a friend, one could easily go weeks if not months with little cognizance that we were at war,” said Gianvito, who teaches in the Department of Visual and Media Arts. “I felt if I didn't try to do something, I too was contributing to the silence. Thankfully, other filmmakers shared these concerns and came on board.”

Gianvito partnered with the advocacy group Afghan Voices to give insight on the daily challenges of living in an American-occupied country. “Our goal was to convey the very real and often grave challenges they face without portraying them as victims,” he said.

He looks forward to gauging the New York audience’s reception of Far From Afghanistan as a part of the Documentary Fortnight series, and hopes to apply what he’s learned in his personal experience as a filmmaker to teaching his Emerson students.

Far From Afghanistan is a further effort, however humble, to take some responsibility for the world as I find it,” he said.

A Staten Island native, Gianvito holds degrees in film production from the California Institute of the Arts and M.I.T., and currently teaches several film courses at Emerson, including the Cinema and Social Change curriculum he helped design to further political filmmaking at the College. The majority of his work in film has concentrated on the political sphere, including the semi-narrative The Mad Songs of Fernanda Hussein, addressing the Iraq War, and the two-part documentary For Example, The Philippines. 

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