The secret association of pot and crime unveiled—in another country

A Life in Hashistan

on February 15, 2008 by Sara Schieron
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Tanya Dreher’s documentary about filmmaker Chris Turner and his 40-year history studying the nomads of Afghanistan is a straightforward account of his genuinely embedded view of a culture mainstream media so frequently reduces to black-and-white.

After a short career in advertising in 1967, Tucker decided to go on a journey to the Middle East to capture the true stories happening there. Beginning in the ’60s, migration to the Middle East grew in popularity among westerners. Tucker credits it to the growth of hippie culture and its appreciation for hashish. As drinking in the Muslim faith is believed to incur draconian punishments, the people turn to hashish for recreation and relaxation. A long association with hashish smoking and the exclusive culture of assassins is suspected (note the similarity between the words hashishan and assassin), but the use of hashish also has religious attachments. The man with the pipe is always a similar sort of man—he is often the lord of the assassins. As he’s not permitted to have either wives or possessions his role is, as Turner says, “incorruptible,” which is a far cry from our western notion of the political assassin, the lone gun who sells his services to the highest bidder.

As Turner’s work in Afghanistan has spanned four decades, he’s seen the country through many changes of power as well as the nation’s war with the Soviet Union. While the mainstream media was reporting on the power of oil, Turner was documenting the drug trade and its possible origins in the Soviet Union.

An outsider in Afghanistan, Turner relentlessly returns to the country, seeking the story the mainstream media doesn’t pursue. It’s interesting that Dreher presents this alternative news with stunningly mainstream visuals, but the story itself is intriguing and could find a comfortable home on television.

Distributor: TBD
Cast: Chris Turner, William MacPherson, Jean Basore, Steven Turner and John Turner
Director/Producer: Tonya Dreher
Genre: Documentary
Rating: Unrated
Running time: 66 min.
Release date: TBD

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