MIFF – 2012 Afghanistan Film Package

Films from Afghanistan aim to present ‘real Afghanistan’ through insiders insights


A 13 film special package from Afghanistan is one of the key attractions of MIFF 2012.  As the curator of the Afghanistan package Ms Reena Mohan says “Afghanistan is the most reported but least understood region in the world.”


The war at Afghanistan has ensured a heavy international media presence in that country, but the coverage and depiction is often ‘narrow and limited, with emphasis on conflict, opium and feuding tribes.  A number of other documentaries made by non-Afghans show topics like cricket in Afghanistan or women playing football.


Curator Reena Mohan says her main aim of putting together the Afghanistan package was to show to the world the depiction of ‘real Afghanistan’ through the eyes of Afghan film makers. The package aims to trace the differences in their way of representing and seeing their own country. It also explores the challenges faced by artistes in expressing their thoughts amidst growing opposition to creative freedom.


Addicted to Afghanistan by Jawed Taiman addresses the issue of opium and drug’s devastating effect on the children of Afghanistan.


Death to the Camera by Sayed Qasem Hossaini examines the delicate gender issue, while Shabana by Mohammad Haroon Hamdard is an insight into the life of a girl child in Afghanistan. Hameed Alizadeh’s Checkpoint looks into the life and work of 15 border policemen.


Half Value Life is the story of Marya Bashir, the first woman public prosecutor in Afghanistan.


A letter to light, House No111, Joys of Fervency, Playing the Taar, You Don’t belong to this country are some of the other films in the package


The package also includes three animation films –Hope, Shelter and Death to Freedom.


Cinema in Afghanistan


Cinema entered Afghanistan at the beginning of 20th century. The political changes in Afghanistan have not allowed cinema to flourish, but several Pashto and Dari film makers, both inside and outside Afghanistan have been producing films


Amir Habibullah (1901–1919) introduced film to Afghanistan, but in the royal court only.  Pahgam was the first silent film shown to public in 1924.  In 1968 Afghan Film, a state run film production company was formed and it began producing documentaries and news films highlighting official meetings and conferences of the government.  These newsreels where shown before the screening of feature films, which were mostly the Hindi films from India.  The civil wars of the 1990s were not conducive to creative work and many people working in the Afghan film industry migrated to Iran or Pakistan. Since 2000, the cinema of Afghanistan has slowly started to emerge from a lengthy period of silence.