A new landmark documentary coming to BBC Two in September will tell the inside story of the 18 monumental days in August 2021, when the U.S. withdrew its troops from Afghanistan, and the subsequent evacuation of thousands of Afghan citizens from Kabul airport after the Taliban seized the city.
Escape From Kabul Airport is an Amos production for the BBC, in association with HBO and in collaboration with ARTE France. It is produced by Emmy and Bafta-winning Dan Reed (Leaving Neverland), and directed by award-winning Jamie Roberts (Four Hours At The Capitol).
This immersive and emotional feature-length documentary examines the largest airlift in US modern history which despite the chaos and suffering, evacuated 124,000 people.
The film combines never before seen on-the-ground archival footage from the evacuation, alongside exclusive interviews with evacuees, eye-witnesses, U.S. Marines and Taliban fighters.
This includes from Afghan citizens attempting to flee and who recount their dramatic struggle to reach the airport, their last hope of leaving the country before the widely-feared Taliban take control.
Escape From Kabul Airport also hears from the specialist unit of U.S. Marines tasked with managing the evacuation and whose plans are shattered when Taliban forces take the city at lightning speed.
They speak openly for the first time of their hand-to-hand battle to reclaim the overwhelmed airfield whilst a humanitarian catastrophe unspooled around them. Taliban commanders and fighters who had recently taken the city describe how they encircled the airport perimeter and faced U.S. forces.
The shocking unseen footage shows the ordeal Afghan citizens faced waiting to get through the gates of the airport, spending days on end in the Kabul heat without access to food or water.
As the crowds grew increasingly desperate to leave, a tragic sequence of events unfolded, including a devastating suicide bomb attack that the Islamic State group said that it had carried out, killing 13 U.S. military personnel and more than 170 Afghan civilians. Exclusive footage sourced from Taliban fighters shows these final hours of the two-trillion dollar U.S. project in Afghanistan.
Jamie Roberts, Director of Escape From Kabul Airport, says: “When the images of the chaotic Kabul airlift flashed across the news I immediately wanted to know more about what this historic moment looked and felt like on the ground, through the eyes of the people who were there.
"The AMOS Pictures team spent months in Afghanistan, filming key insiders and uncovering unseen footage that tells this deeply human story in raw, intimate and dramatic detail. Escape From Kabul Airport is a tightly focussed, admittedly terrifying account of what happened, narrated by the people at the heart of the action.”
Joanna Carr, Head of BBC Current Affairs, says: “We’re thrilled the team behind Four Hours At The Capitol are bringing the same comprehensive and sophisticated approach to this film that will give viewers an unparalleled insight...
"This urgent, first-hand account of the events which shocked the world last year is a revealing exploration into the devastating end of America’s longest war.”