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Retrograde film image, director Matthew Heineman


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Canadian Premiere

In the summer of 2021, the United States withdrew its military forces from Afghanistan, marking an end to the so-called Forever War, while leaving behind a hamstrung government and an undersupplied Afghan National Army to fend for themselves against increasingly aggressive Taliban forces. Director Matthew Heineman (A Private War, Cartel Land) captures intimate details of American and Afghan soldiers navigating the politics and bureaucracy, focusing in on the beleaguered General Sami Sadat, who is left bearing the brunt of responsibility to fight an unwinnable war. Sadat is committed to the goal of a democratic Afghanistan, but as the remaining American personnel find their hands tied by policy decisions from their superiors, and the Afghan military’s morale declines as they suffer loss after loss, he begins to realize that victory is impossible. After 20 years, hundreds of thousands of lives lost, and trillions of dollars spent, the Taliban is back in control and the country is still mired in civil war.


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In English, Dari, and Pashto with English subtitles

Film Contact
93 min

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Executive Producer

Carolyn Bernstein, Baktash Ahadi, David Fialkow, Joedan Okun


Matthew Heineman, Caitlin McNally


Tim Grucza, Matthew Heineman, Olivier Sarbil


Pablo Garza, Matthew Heineman, Grace Zahrah

Original Music

H. Scott Salinas


Matthew Heineman headshot, Retrograde director

Photo by Michael Ori

Matthew Heineman

Matthew Heineman is an Academy Award-nominated and Emmy Award-winning filmmaker. The Sundance Film Festival called Heineman “one of the most talented and exciting documentary filmmakers working today,” while Anne Thompson of IndieWire wrote that Heineman is a “respected and gifted filmmaker who combines gonzo fearlessness with empathetic sensitivity.” He most recently directed National Geographic Documentary Films’ The First Wave (2021), about the harrowing first four months of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is currently available on Hulu and Disney+.

Filmography: Cartel Land (2015); City of Ghosts (2017); A Private War (2018); The First Wave (2021)