Retrograde intimately captures the eight months leading to U.S. troops’ withdrawal from Afghanistan, giving a voice and face to the Afghan people permeating the news coverage. After President Biden accelerates the exit timeline, a team of Green Berets preparing Afghan troops to operate independently must expedite training while demobilizing U.S. tactical equipment. Director Matthew Heineman (PFF30’s Best Documentary Award-winner The First Wave) is known for his bold, dynamic documentaries that provide unprecedented insights about people and communities in dangerous settings. His latest project is no exception, offering unparalleled access to operations and discussions of military personnel. In the cinéma verité style indicative of his work, his camera thoughtfully frames its subjects and the unfolding events — from close-ups of revealing facial expressions to wide shots of desperate crowds storming the Kabul airport. His observations show people stuck between hope and uncertainty, resilience and fear, personal convictions and military obligations. The film presents a haunting firsthand account of the escalating chaos after America’s departure and a sobering look at the people left behind.
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