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Afghanistan’s homage to women

The festival venue in Herat

The international Afghan film festival was organized for the first time on the occasion of Women’s day in the Afghan city, Herat. Cinema is difficult in Afghanistan, where religious, cultural and political problems come in the way of freedom of expression.

Director Siddiq Barmak also attended the festival

It is not easy enough to film in Afghanistan, because after the Taliban took over, cinema and filming were banned. This had has far-reaching effects on the situation of cinema today in the country. However, things seem to be looking up and the first ever women’s film festival was organized a few weeks ago.

The festival was initiated by the Armanshahr Foundation Roya Sada Film House with the support of 40 human rights and women’s organizations and media outlets. It was held at the Herat, known as the citadel of northeast Afghanistan. The festival covered a wide array of subjects about the plight of women, the challenges they face, domestic violence, forced marriages and other issues, according to Roya Sadat, Co-president of the Herat International Women’s Film Festival.  The festival received 100 submissions, 25 foreign films and five Afghan films were showcased in this festival.

The members of the festival’s advisory team included internationally renowned Afghan film makers such as Siddiq Barmak, who has been to the Cannes Film Festival and has won the Golden Globe award for the film, Osama. Paris-based writer, Atiq Rahimi, whose new film Sangue-e sabour (The stone of patience) has also supported the initiative.

Drawing on his experiences as a film maker, Siddiq Barmak said that what matters is making active use of the influence of movies could have on the plight of women, with the intention of eliminating or at least decreasing the incidents of violence against women. “The festival is not competitive event, it provides a platform and space to discuss issues concerning women, in the belief that the participation of dedicated women filmmakers will contribute to changing the perception of women’s roles in a traditional and war-torn society,” he said. He also added that conducting such festivals are important, particularly for newer film makers so they can connect with other film makers and create a community. He said that it allows newer film makers to interact with one another and can motivate Afghan film makers to hone their skills.

Organizers say the festival, timed to coincide with the International Women’s Day on March 8 is set to be an annual event.

Author: Tamana Jamily

Editor: Manasi Gopalakrishnan


22.03.2013 | 13:33