Since the religious and political fundamentalist group swept into Kabul after the government collapsed the on August 15th, the political and social situation of Afghanistan is back in the public eye. The country’s tumultuous history is extremely complex and hard to understand. Films have the power of showing us the big picture of a socio-political conflict while depicting the effect of these on individuals. This is why this issue we are listing some top tier films set in Afghanistan that may help you understand what is going on in the country. From The Breadwinner to The Kite Runner, here is a selection of compelling stories that show the struggles in the middle east from different perspectives.
The Breadwinner (2017)
The award-winning Irish studio cartoon film is far from childish. “The Breadwinner,” based on the best-selling novel by Deborah Ellis, is about a determined young girl who takes on the appearance of a boy to support her family when his dad is sent to prison by the Taliban. With Angelina Jolie as executive producer, the film received an Oscar nomination for best animated feature.
Hava, Maryam, Ayesha (2019)
The latest film by Afghan director Sahraa Karimi premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 2019. It narrates the parallel stories of three women, all living in Kabul but in different social contexts, with their pregnancy in their own way. The filmmaker has since fled Afghanistan and is now in Kyiv, Ukraine.
‘Charlie Wilson’s War’ (2007)
Tom Hanks plays Charlie Wilson, a US Congressman who played a key role during the Reagan administration when the US did support the Mujahideen, the anti-Soviet resistance fighters — who went on to form fundamentalist groups such as the Taliban and al-Qaeda.
The Kite Runner (2007)
Another best-selling novel adaptation by Khaled Hosseini and directed by German-Swiss filmmaker Marc Forster, The Kite Runner creates a contrast by featuring universal mundane problems such as acceptance, redemption and relationships along with Afghanistan’s tumultuous past, covering the fall of the monarchy, the Soviet military intervention, the mass exodus of Afghan refugees and the Taliban regime.
Rock the Kasbah (2015)
Bruce Willis, Kate Hudson, and Bill Murray all star in this comedy about a has-been rock manager that finds himself stuck in Kabul, where he discovers Salima, a young Afghan girl with an extraordinary voice and manages to convince the producer of Afghanistan’s version of American Idol let her participate in the show.
This film by Mohsen Makhmalbaf, one of Iran’s great directors, depicts the life of an Afghan-Canadian woman who returns to the middle east to save her sister from taking her own life. Kandahar didn’t get much attention when it premiered at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival. It was only when a western country was affected by the troubles in the 9/11 attacks that the film earned more international attention.
‘In This World’ (2002)
This documentary-style movie about two Afghan refugees travelling from a refugee camp in Pakistan to London was directed by Michael Winterbottom, and had non-professional actors performing fictionalized versions of themselves. It won the Golden Bear award at the 2003 Berlin Film Festival and the BAFTA for the best non-English film.