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University of Missouri

Frame by Frame

Mizzou alumna Mo Scarpelli documents photojournalism in Afghanistan.

Frame by Frame Mo Scarpelli

Mo Scarpelli tells the story of four Afghan photographers in the documentary Frame by Frame, scheduled for release in 2015.

Alexandria Bombach and Mo Scarpelli

Alexandria Bombach and Mo Scarpelli spent more than a month following four local photographers to capture the risks they take to preserve photojournalism in Afghanistan.

For five years, photography was forbidden in Afghanistan under the Taliban regime. After 9/11, the ban was lifted, and a new generation of photojournalists emerged. In the documentary Frame by Frame, Mo Scarpelli and Alexandria Bombach film four local photographers and the risks they take to preserve photojournalism in Afghanistan.

Scarpelli, BJ ’09, of Big Rapids, Michigan, has always been drawn to people who persevere through trying circumstances. “The stories I’m interested in inform and provoke people to learn about something or start questioning things in their world,” she says.

Afghanistan

For five years, photography was forbidden in Afghanistan under the Taliban regime. After 9/11, the ban was lifted, and a new generation of photojournalists emerged.

After graduating from the School of Journalism’s convergence emphasis program, Scarpelli spent three years using documentary storytelling to report stories around the world for Charity Water, a nonprofit that funds safe drinking water projects in developing countries. Scarpelli and Bombach met while working on a film for the nonprofit. In 2012, Scarpelli started her own company, Rake Films, where she produces films for nonprofits and news clients. “I focus on stories about people, rather than issues or stats,” Scarpelli says. “The human behind the topic is more interesting to me, and usually to an audience, too.”

Najibullah Musafar studied visual arts in Afghanistan and continued to make photographs even after the Taliban banned photography. He is one of few photojournalists who documented what was happening in the country from 1996 to 2001.

Najibullah Musafar studied visual arts in Afghanistan and continued to make photographs even after the Taliban banned photography. He is one of few photojournalists who documented what was happening in the country from 1996 to 2001.

In fall 2012, Scarpelli and Bombach started shooting in Afghanistan, hoping to create a short film about the perspective of Afghan photojournalists. As they got to know the photographers, the duo realized, “We only knew the tip of the iceberg,” Scarpelli says. “The dangerous media landscape and these characters’ stories were so complex. We had to shoot more.” Through crowdfunding, they raised more than $70,000 to film for more than a month in Kabul. What started as a short piece became the filmmakers’ first feature-length doc, which is scheduled for release in January 2015.

After completing Frame by Frame, Scarpelli says she’ll focus on domestic and international reporting. “I still have the reporter’s bug.”