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Afghan-filmed German drama at Berlin fest tackles fate of foreign soldiers' local helpers

Director Feo Aladag poses for photographers at the photo call for the film Inbetween Worlds at the Berlinale International Film Festival in Berlin, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

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Director Feo Aladag poses for photographers at the photo call for the film Inbetween Worlds at the Berlinale International Film Festival in Berlin, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

BERLIN - A drama highlighting the problems facing foreign forces' local helpers in Afghanistan, "Inbetween Worlds," made its debut Tuesday at the Berlin International Film Festival. Filmed in northern Afghanistan, the competition entry from Austrian-born director Feo Aladag follows the efforts of a German army captain to connect with locals via his interpreter, played by 18-year-old Mohsin Ahmady.

ON LOCATION

The movie was made largely in and around the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, which is German forces' main base. Asked how it was to direct a movie as a woman in Afghanistan, Aladag replied that she expected it to be more difficult — though "of course, you have a headscarf and you're not running around in a T-shirt; you try to act respectfully." About half the film team were Afghans.

LOCAL HELPERS

Aladag said she was motivated by a lack of films about modern German troops in combat situations — a relative novelty for post-World War II Germany — and by a feeling that local helpers such as the leading character in her film, an Afghan interpreter who receives threats from insurgents, are getting "unfair" treatment from politicians at home. She argued that the process of considering visa applications from such helpers should be speeded up. Still, the director said she didn't set out to make judgments on the combat deployment in Afghanistan, which is now winding down.

FIRST TIME ABROAD

Ahmady, who left Afghanistan for the first time for the premiere, posed for photographers but didn't face reporters. He's "in a very different world ... and it's all a bit much, we're making sure not to overexpose him," Aladag said. The film is one of 20 competing for the Berlin festival's main Golden Bear honour, which will be awarded on Saturday.

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