‘Fixer: The Taking of Ajmal Naqshbandi’

By Genevieve Long for The Epoch Times

There are some documentaries that are like stepping on broken glass to watch. Painful, shocking, and they leave you with a wound. Fixer: The Taking of Ajmal Naqshbandi is one of them.

Christian Parenti (Courtesy of Ian Olds/HBO )
Christian Parenti (Courtesy of Ian Olds/HBO )

This feature-length documentary is a window into the work of Ajmal Naqshbandi, an Afghan man who worked as a fixer in Afghanistan before he was kidnapped and murdered by the Taliban in 2007. A ‘fixer’ is a journalism term for a local contact who works closely with foreign reporters to arrange interviews, establish contacts, and facilitate reporting in their locale.

The broken glass in the film goes beyond Ajmal’s death, which underlies every scene in the movie. You know that he dies, and you know how—but you learn the murkiness of the world he worked in as the scenes of the movie play out.

“I think some people are very optimistic or hopeful about Afghanistan,” said Ian Olds, the film’s director. “But it’s hard to be so optimistic after seeing this film.”

Ajmal Naqshbandi (Courtesy of Ian Olds/HBO )
Ajmal Naqshbandi (Courtesy of Ian Olds/HBO )

Olds directs both narrative and documentary work. He is an award-winning filmmaker who also co-directed a documentary about Iraq with Garrett Scott. Scott passed away before he and Olds could start working on their next project with a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation. So, Olds decided to take a research trip to Afghanistan anyway, and wound up getting the footage for Fixer.

“It was only after Ajmal passed away that it became a kind of obligation to tell the story,” said Olds. The film has been screened at festivals around the world, and garnered Olds the Best New Documentary Filmmaker award at Tribeca—auspicious for a filmmaker who usually makes fiction.


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