Cryptocurrency comes to the rescue of filmmakers in troubled regions

A documentary on skiing in Afghanistan's Bamiyan and its funding by cryptocurrency are creating a buzz



Cryptocurrency has partially funded the production of Beyond the Border, says Suril Desai, co-producer of the documentary film by Naseer Khanday from Kashmir. Cryptocurrency, says Desai, is a great boon especially for documentary filmmakers in conflict zones as they no longer have to worry about converting and carrying cash to meet their production costs.

Desai has produced Khanday’s debut documentary, Iron Khan also. The debut film was about the coming of age of a man in Kashmir.

"Though I have never skied nor snowboarded, I have produced two documentaries about the winter sports culture, both in heavily conflicted regions of the world. I realised that there are a lot of similarities culturally in the two regions. Activities like winter sports can bring about a lot of changes in the lives of the people in these regions. It opens their minds to new experiences and can improve their economic well-being", Desai added.

Beyond the Border received rave reviews when it premiered at the Venice film festival in September. The documentary captures Bamiyan --Afghanistan's skiing hub-- that sits opposite the cliffs where sixth century statues of the Buddha were destroyed by the Taliban in 2001.

Local athletes however continue to pursue their passion, making their own gear out of wooden planks, metal, plastic, and rope. Dave and Mitch, two snowboarders from Canada visited Afghanistan to distribute snowboarding gear. "There is much more to Afghanistan than just wars and conflict,” says Naseer.

"European aficionados of skiing often refer to a downhill race as a "Kandahar."

The name derives from a British general, Frederick Sleigh Roberts, who won a major victory at Kandahar in 1880 and was subsequently knighted. He chose for himself the title 'Lord Roberts of Kandahar'.

Later, he was involved with organising the first-ever downhill ski race in Europe (in 1911), which was called "The Roberts of Kandahar Challenge".

(This article was first published in National Herald on Sunday)

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