A short film by David J. Strong

The Last Night



Isolated at night in mountainous Afghanistan and surrounded by militia, a young United Nations military advisor struggles to negotiate with a powerful warlord.

Inspired by true events this is a dark, serious, and high stakes story about a real subject – Afghanistan and the futility of Western efforts in trying to change it. It’s about the reality of life and death in its coarsest and most primitive form, being played at under the façade of friendship by seemingly reasonable men, knowing that in this hellish place, death is but a wrong-glance away.

Writer and director David Strong extensively researched life in Afghanistan and applied his personal military experiences as a peacekeeper to ensure this film is as authentic as it is powerful. He has been involved in a number of complex negotiations and conveys equal empathy with both Western and Afghani characters.


'I know you’re going to do the most terrible thing tomorrow. But I have to play your game and pretend that I don’t know.'

Captain James Lesley is desperately struggling to give meaning to his United Nations' tour of duty, so he can leave Afghanistan believing that he’s achieved at least something, improved something.

But in this land, being a hero has no meaning.


Key Crew

  • Executive Producer - Todrick Taylor
  • Written and Directed by - David J Strong
  • Produced by - Wanda Lepionka and David J Strong
  • Co-producer - Marc Ashton
  • Line Producer - Marc Tyron
  • Director of Photography - Mathew Knight
  • Gaffer - Hansel Verkerk
  • First Assistant Director - Robin Wilson
  • Co-casting Director - Tina Cleary
  • Co-casting Director - Miranda Rivers
  • Production Designer - Brendan Heffernan
  • Editor - Jeff Hurrell
  • Sound Recordist - Aaron Davis
  • Costume Designer - Sally Gray
  • Hair and Make Up - Elise Grace Brown
  • Composer - Briar Prastiti
  • Visual Effects Supervisor - Charlie Tait
  • Special Effects Supervisor - Steve Ingram
  • Stills Photographer - Emily Roper

Director's Notes

David J Strong directing

Shooting Style

The trauma, the surreal nature and the inescapability of the world that is contained within the bounds of Azeem, the warlord's hut and the mountains of Afghanistan surrounding it, provides the focus for the film’s imagery.

Cohen Holloway as Captain James Lesley

Calvin Tuteao as Azeem Asoud


Lighting is inspired by the Dutch Golden age painters, like Gerrit van Honthorst's Christ Before the High Priest. Like van Hornthorst, the film is lit by a single source oil lamp which evokes a feeling of intimacy while being exposed and enclosed by the Afghan militia lingering in the smoky shadows.

van Honthorst, Gerrit c.1617, Christ before the High Priest, Oil on canvas, 272 x 183 cm, The National Gallery, London.

van Honthorst, Gerrit c.1617, Christ before the High Priest, Oil on canvas, 272 x 183 cm, The National Gallery, London.

Director / Producer

David J Strong & Wanda Lepionka

David Strong

David Strong is a writer, director and producer from Wellington, New Zealand.

He has written and directed two short films. Pacific Dreams starring New Zealand Dame Kate Harcourt who won Best Actress at Rhode Island Film Festival. His latest short, The Last Night, is about to be submitted to international film festivals.

He has written several feature screenplays. David's other credits include: The Waterhorse and The Hobbit as military advisor.

David has two Masters of Arts and a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature. He is a member of the New Zealand Writers Guild and Screen Directors Guild.

Wanda Lepionka

Wanda has produced two short films, Pacific Dreams and The Last Night. Her other credits include: Avatar as Costume Co-Ordinator and Pacific Dreams as costume supervisor.

Wanda has a Master of Philosophy in Visual and Material Culture and a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Classical Studies. Wanda is a member of SPADA and WIFT.




Currently in development, coming soon.

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