The Watch or the Time

The Watch or the Time is an uncomfortably honest look behind the lives of Afghan and Expat 'nation builders' who lived in Kabul through the 20 year conflict. Together these ‘Kabulians’ hoped to build a new, prosperous and safer nation. But as the Taliban took control again and America washed their hands of responsibility in the longest war in modern history, our characters struggled to make sense of the dramatic shift in their beloved Afghanistan.
At a time where invasion, occupation and military spending globally seem to be peaking, The Watch or the Time unfolds many layers of complex modern day warfare versus the civilian cost. An Afghan female graffiti artist, a German armoured car salesman, an American women’s rights activist, a Canadian NATO psy-ops specialist, Kabul University’s debate club vice-president, an Australian war photographer, Afghanistan’s Number 1 media-fixer and a jubilant Taliban commander are the voices entangled in the West’s failed democracy project. The Watch or the Time ultimately asks; Was it all worth it?

  • Travis Beard
  • Catherine James
  • Navid Bahadori
    The Twist
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    conflict, social
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 48 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    May 31, 2023
  • Production Budget:
    500,000 AUD
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
    English, Persian
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Distribution Information
  • Sideways Films
    Country: Worldwide
    Rights: All Rights
Director Biography - Travis Beard

In 2007 Travis co-founded an Afghan skateboard school: Skateistan. In 2008 he founded an Arts Collective: Combat Communications. In 2009, a street art school: Wallords. In 2010, the country’s First Music & Arts festival: Sound Central Festival (2011 –2013).

Travis directed the award winning documentary Rockabul, funded by Screen Australia, Film Victoria and the US embassy,
which premiered at Rotterdam in 2018.

Travis is currently co-producing a film about South Korean metal called K-Pop Killers. He has contributed footage to films: Jirga 2018,
Afghan Cycles 2017, Motley’s Law 2016 and Frame by Frame 2015.
Travis has written a book about his motorcycle touring in Afghanistan entitled: The Bullet is Faster than the Bike.

He recently completed a fundraising campaign to assist in evacuating Afghan musicians. He raised $45,000 and 52 Afghan musicians are now safely outside Afghanistan.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

Following the success of my debut feature film Rockabul, my second instalment; The Watch or the Time will offer a nuanced perspective to the country I called home for seven years.
I seek to question myself, the role of my colleagues and other Western mechanisms that somehow both liberated this Islamic republic and perpetuated the conflict. After two decades of senseless conflict, more than $US2 trillion dollars spent and over 240,000 deaths, I question; what were we [the West] thinking?

My aspiration for this film is that the world learns more about the inner mechanics of the war machine, as well as the diplomatic and aid machines. These three symbiotic cogs have driven the conflict that lasted 20 years. And the smaller cogs, myself and my colleagues, were in some ways, complicit in that perpetuation of suffering for the Afghan people.

I’ve taken inspiration from films such as FOG OF WAR (Errol Morris, 2013) BITTER LAKE (Adam Curtis, 2015), and AFGHANISTAN, A STATE OF DENIAL (Claire Billet 2022). We are lucky enough now to live in an era where visual documentation can be the reference material for future generations. I want this film to become a historical reference for people curious to know what happened to nations directly affected by the War on Terror.

“We went into Afghanistan with the intention to get a bit of that danger buzz, to rebuild a nation and win the hearts and minds of war-weary civilians. But, were we just filling our pockets with foreign funds, accruing street cred to use back home and destroying what we were building with blind persistence?”