Afghanistan is facing a lot of chaos after the US troops’ withdrawal from the country.
When the Taliban first came in the 1990s, thousands of Afghan films were buried under the soil. Now, as the Taliban reign Kabul again, filmmakers and actors fear the worst. The Taliban, among many other things, dislike movies.
The future of the film industry is at risk, cultural freedoms are at risk.
The Afghanistan film industry got a 20-year Taliban-free lease to tell its story. The year 2001 inaugurated a new era. Films were produced, women directors emerged, international film festivals were held. The world wasn’t just watching Afghanistan as a conflict-ridden country in shades of beige and ochre through Western lens and war films. Afghans produced movies like Kandahar (2001), Osama (2003), a Golden Globe winner, and Wajma (2013).
Over the years, many journalists, photographers, and filmmakers have shown the critical situation of the country through cinema. Hopefully, with the advent of YouTube and social media, Afghanistan will not have to bury its films in canisters again.
Here, we look at movies that have shown the worrisome situation faced by soldiers and natives of the country.
Hava, Maryam, Ayesha (2019)
The latest film by Afghan director Sahraa Karimi premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 2019. It portrays three women, all living in Kabul but in different social contexts, who deal in their own way with pregnancy.
A film made in Afghanistan by Siddiq Barmak, which tells the story from the Afghan perspective. The film follows a preteen girl living in Afghanistan under the Taliban regime who disguises herself as a boy, Osama, to support her family.
What We Left Unfinished (2019)
The documentary by director Mariam Ghani tells the incredible and important story of five unfinished feature films from the Communist era in Afghanistan (1978-1991). An era where films were weapons, filmmakers were targets, and the dreams of constantly shifting political regimes merged with the stories told on screen.
Buzkashi Boys (2011)
A film by Sam French lends us the perspective of two best friends who are struggling to realize their dreams as they grow up in Afghanistan.
At Five in the Afternoon (2003)
This film tells the story of a young woman in war-torn Kabul who dreams of becoming president and tries to gain an education after the defeat of the Taliban. The film was also shot in the Afghan capital.
This film by Mohsen Makhmalbaf, one of Iran’s great directors, tells the story of an Afghan-Canadian who returns to her homeland to save her sister from committing suicide. “Kandahar” didn’t get much attention when it premiered at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival. But then came the September 11 attacks, and the world wanted to find out more about the hardships faced by women in Afghanistan.