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Side by Side


“Five meters deep, two meters wide—ten square meters. At some point everything feels like home.” Daniel, a captain with the German Bundeswehr speaks almost lovingly about his room in a shipping container at his base in Kunduz, Afghanistan.

Daniel believes in what he is doing. “There is right and wrong. And I think we are the good guys.” His six-month stint is almost over and he is looking forward to going home again. But he will return to Afghanistan, for “this is the real life here.”

Three kilometres away in the Afghan military barracks, Lieutenant Mehdi M. tells the story of his tattoos. He shows the scars from the ones he had removed: “Here were my initials and those of someone I loved. I married someone else, so the tattoos had to go.”

Ever since he can remember, Mehdi wanted to join the army. He sees no difference between the Afghan and the German soldiers.

Intimate portrayal of two professional soldiers

At a time when the news from Afghanistan are dominated by a seemingly endless stream of bloodshed, Shaheen Dill-Riaz sets out to discover the story behind the headlines.

Shoulder by Shoulder is the motto of the International Security Assistance Force. It represents the partnership between the international coalition and the Afghan security forces and served as an inspiration for the title of this documentary.

The film director gets close to people who are not participating in the political debates, sensitively creating portraits of the two staunchly committed professional soldiers. He also engages in conversations with their wives.

Sandra, who is waiting with two children in a small German town (Zweibrücken), says, “Actually, I never wanted to be with a soldier …” In Kabul, Marina, who also has two children, admits “Of course I am afraid, … but one has to accept it.”

Film details

Title: Side by Side / Schulter an Schulter
Release date: 2012
TV premiere: November 26, 2012, 00:15
Length: 60 min
Format: HD
Production: Mayalok Filmproduktion


Side by Side photos (Zip)