For many ordinary Afghans living in poverty, joining the army offers them the opportunity to better themselves, to earn a regular income and support their families back home. So it is all the more shocking when we learn that they have not been paid their salary for nine months. Over-burdened administration, complex bureaucracy, willful mismanagement or embezzled funds? It's never made clear. What is evident is the men's courage as they attempt to keep the peace and come under fire. Their fear is often palpably caught on Farouky's camera. The bravery of Farouky and McEvoy is also evident when they are filming dangerous operations or when they are shot at as they follow the soldiers in retreat. In one telling scene, we hear the ragged breath of the cameraman as he runs after the soldiers under fire. When he reaches the safety of the vehicle sent to pick them up, the men's adrenalin is palpable. The camera is immediately trained on one of the soldiers - the look of fear and relief on his face is a frank projection of the cameraman's own.
It's this humanity that keeps us engaged throughout. Farouky captures the beauty of the landscape, despite the ravages of war, and he recognises the importance of the small moments that linger with you - the soldiers' care for the Mynah bird that makes the barracks its home, for instance, or Jalaluddin's love of literature. The film's title comes from a poem by Khaliullah Khalili, which Jalaluddin recites. As well as giving ordinary Afghan soldiers a voice, Tell Spring Not to Come This Year offers a valuable window on the reality of life in the ANA, amply illustrated by the distrust of villagers caught between the Taliban and the army, and the desire of the soldiers to rebuild their country and earn a decent living.