You’ve got to hand it to Mercury Cinema. It’s kicking off the 2016 Adelaide Cinémathèque program with a bang.

New Zealand documentary maker Pietra Brettkelly risked her life to make the film that opens the season on August 11.

Pietra Brettkelly’s A Flickering Truth is set among the rubble of post-Taliban Afghanistan. It follows a group of Afghani cinephiles who are researching the history of their country through preserved film reels. Led by filmmaker Ibrahim Arify, the team excavates ruins and searches vaults looking for celluloid records that escaped Taliban rule.

“I was interested in finding out what happens to normal people during times of war,” Brettkelly says. “People who don’t have the tools or freedom to tell their stories.”

It wasn’t without challenges. When she crossed Kabul, Brettkelly was greeted at the gates of the rumoured film facility by soldiers with guns. “I couldn’t let that stop me though,” she says. “I just stood there until Arify arrived and they let me in.”

The documentary highlights the role of film as a medium for sharing history, not just for entertainment.

“In Afghanistan, film is even more important,” Brettkelly says. “Almost 70 per cent of the population is illiterate. To be able to see or hear their stories is incredibly meaningful. To preserve these fragile, non-digitised films and get them out to the people is so important.”

A Flickering Truth is a portrayal of real life in Afghanistan; its challenges, hardship and beauty. Brettkelly didn’t want to make a movie about war or soldiers, but one about people just like us. No matter what the cost to her safety.

“There are a lot of risks in this line of work but that’s how I want to live my life,” she says. “To meet people and see things that challenge your way of life, that’s how you grow. I just keep thinking, ‘Who am I going to meet next?’”

A Flickering Truth premieres at 7pm, August 11 at Mercury Cinema, 13 Morphett Street as part of the 2016 Adelaide Cinematheque member's club program. A program of curated films continues every Monday and Thursday night until the end of the year. Anyone can attend but needs to buy a membership of at least four tickets (useable across the whole season) valued at $40/general admission or $30 concession.

mercurycinema.org.au