Saturday, February 27, 2010

French filmmaker Severin Blanchet killed in Kabul

PARIS – Severin Blanchet, a French documentary filmmaker who was training young Afghans, died Friday during an attack by insurgents in a hotel for foreigners in Kabul where he was staying. He was 66.

The French Foreign Ministry and the Ateliers Varan, a French film school with which Blanchet was affiliated, both offered condolences.

Blanchet had been in Afghanistan since 2006 organizing classes in documentary film-making for young, aspiring Afghan filmmakers.

"I salute the memory of our compatriot Severin Blanchet," French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said in a statement Friday.

"He was a privileged partner in French cultural action in Afghanistan. We will pursue with determination the work that he had started with such generosity and solidarity," Kouchner said.

Blanchet had made about a dozen of his own documentary films and created film-making courses in many countries. He had a special interest for Papua New Guinea, the Ateliers Varan said in a statement posted on its Web site.

He also appeared in films on occasion and had a role in the 2006 movie "Gardens in Autumn" by the well-known Georgian director Otar Iosselani, who lives in France.

Funeral plans were not known, and there was no immediate information available about survivors.

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