Filmmaker details Kabul filmmaking nightmare in new book

The filmmaker took a huge risk to shoot portions of the project in the warzone and her problems were far from over when the movie wrapped – she then had to get the footage out of the country.

She tells, “I had it taped to my chest.”

Nassery Cole has documented the ordeal she went through to make the film in a new book, Will I Live Tomorrow: The Making of Black Tulip, and she insists even she can’t believe she survived to tell the story.

She adds, “We shot the movie in the middle of the war and bombs were dropping. I feared for my life 24/7. They bombed right near the hotel that we were in… I had a heartbeat that didn’t stop from the day I arrived there until two weeks after I came back. I would lay in the bed shaking with my coat and boots and everything on; I never really got to sleep. You’re always in a state of fear.

“They bombed the Indian Embassy right next to the hotel and every window in our hotel broke.”

Nassery Cole’s burly cinematographer quit after the blast because he was convinced he would be killed if he stayed, but the director also survived a kidnapping ordeal, recalling, “The bank was supposed to deliver money to me and we were on location at 3.40am… They said, ‘A black car will come and deliver the money to you’. A black SUV comes and they open the door and I think they’re reaching out to give me something and he (the guy inside) says, ‘No, get in the car’.

“I’m thinking, ‘Maybe he doesn’t want to give me the money in front of people…’ and the guy took off with me! What happened to me was horrific. Read the book, you will see stories that will raise every hair on your body. It’s incredible what happened to me.”

Meanwhile Nassery Cole’s friend Natalie Cole, who wrote music for the film, was terrified for the filmmaker back home in America.

The Pink Cadillac singer says, “I couldn’t call her, so I had to wait for her to call or text me. A movie had not been made in Afghanistan in over 40 years, and certainly not by a woman. She had a cinematographer who was world renowned and agreed to work with her on the film. After the first 24 hours it scared the mess out of him and he left!

“It was a miracle how she was able to leave this country, literally with this film on her body. Getting into Kabul is one thing, leaving is another. I had security when I went to visit her in Kabul but leaving was spooky.”

Proceeds from ticket sales of The Black Tulip will benefit The Afghanistan World Foundation, which Nasser Cole founded. The organisation helps fund hospitals and mobile medical centres in and around Kabul.