INTEL is a short movie and TV pilot stars actress Ali Tataryn as Allison Thomas, a woman who leaves her job as a dental hygienist to join the Canadian Forces Intelligence Branch. It was filmed using uniforms borrowed from 17 Wing Winnipeg and airs on CBC’s Short Shots on August 25, 2012.
It was only a day before Talia Pura broke the rules in Afghanistan. Her daughter, Capt. Alexia Shore of 408 Squadron in Edmonton warned her to never leave Kandahar Air Field (KAF) by road. But as the first playwright to join the Canadian Forces Artists Program, part of her research was spent in Forward Operating Base Ma’sum Ghar in the dangerous Panjwai district.
Pura was among 10 artists who traveled to Afghanistan in 2010. While she doesn’t come from a military family, her daughters Capt. Alexia Shore and 2Lt. Noelani Shore, both graduated from the Royal Military College of Canada. Pura says the trip to Afghanistan was essential to making her work authentic enough for her daughters and other soldiers.
“It was driving my daughter insane,” says Pura about an episode of Combat Hospital. “She said, ‘They landed the helicopter five feet from the hospital. They landed it in the parade square! What are they thinking?’ It’s completely unrealistic.”
Capt. Shore recently spent six months as a Chinook helicopter pilot in KAF. During one episode of the show, she sent her mother angry emails every 10 minutes about inconsistencies that ranged from helicopter landings to hair perfectly knotted in high buns. As a result, Pura wants to keep the facts straight when telling stories about soldiers and military life.
“I’m trying to give people an insiders view of military culture, because it is it’s own culture. I don’t think there’s a huge understanding in the outside world to be married to a soldier, to be in the military yourself and what that does to your life, never mind your job.”
One of those stories is the film INTEL, based on a real female soldier who worked as a dental hygienist for years before joining the Canadian Forces Intelligence Branch (INT). Pura is submitting the film to the Toronto International Film Festival but it also serves as a pilot for a TV show.
“You are going to see quite a bit of her family and friends and the fact that she’s disappearing and can’t tell them,” says Pura. “But obviously the audience wants to see where she’s going and what she’s doing.”
The veil of secrecy covering INT serves both as an obstacle and running joke in the film. Something Pura needs to approach carefully by convincing the military that it’s time to talk about operations.
“We’re out of our combat role in Afghanistan,” says Pura. “I think there might be a few good reasons to have a TV show about what we did.”
“Let’s see how far I get,” she jokes.
Pura continues her research for INTEL, but her other military-based projects touch on subjects
she has plenty of experience with. The main character in her play “Cry After Midnight” has the same striking timing as her daughter, Capt. Shore.
“When my daughter joined the military it was August 2001. You can imagine how things change within a month after 9/11 happened. So our entire worldview of what our military does in the world completely altered. I had absolutely zero reservations when she joined and that all changed within a month.”
Pura completed four military-related works since returning from Afghanistan. She’s hoping audiences gain some awareness from her work, if not immediately, the playwright has heard enough stories to write for decades.
“There are always little things in between, but I think it’s going to absorb me for a long time.”
For more information on Talia Pura’s Afghanistan Project visit: http://www.taliapura.com/plays/the-afghanistan-project/