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Reviving Afghan Film Industry Despite Ongoing Conflict

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Reviving Afghan Film Industry Despite Ongoing Conflict

By: Leena Alam

Afghan cinema travels on a bumpy road that has been damaged by the ongoing spooky tsunami of the so-called war.

Cinema that is known to reflect cultural attitudes, trends, and events of a country, the Afghan cinema so far has done fairly a good job in doing that. You can sincerely see the reflection of war and the political and social conflicts that have generated from it in different eras and the one we are living now by today’s storytellers. Being mostly about war and its side effects, perhaps it is proper to talk about the number one topic of interest in our films.

Except digitalization, overall pretty simple and basic and not much different from the 70s and 80s in terms of making that is claimed to be somewhat the productive decades, films originate their content from the heart of today’s society, which has made it appealing to the audience to some extent, at least to the foreign audience. Clearly because of the political situation that was alerted post 9/11, world is keen to know more about Afghanistan.

The common people watch TV and rely on the media’s news projection, where the sensitive and intellectuals go to festivals, cinemas and galleries to get to know the Afghan culture through the lenses of the filmmakers and the artists.

This of course generated a great opportunity and opened doors for the Afghan filmmakers to reach farther and find true audience.

With no attachment to the government financially nor morally, free of censorship the low budget and ultra-low budget independent films and the few that had been funded by international organizations can travel anywhere in the world where they can reach audience. Where in the past, films were mostly shown in government friendly countries.

Capitalism and freedom of speech obviously would carry free market along. What this means is that you have full control of your film. You can showcase it as much as you want using different screening platforms, or simply sit it on a shelf and archive it. This may sound all very good in culture-oriented society that actually do watch films. But in a very religious and conservative society where the clerics send out fatwa against film and music artists, you cannot expect its simple-minded people, who think war, corruption, poverty and overall misery that they are experiencing is the work of destiny, to care less about cinema or any form of art for that matter.

Despite being introduced to the popular culture in the past 17 years, with dozens of TV stations, computers, Internet, cellular phones, television sets are still stoned and called the devil in some parts of the country.

Lack of security, funding and overall support of the government and the closed-minded society has been brutal to the Afghan cinema. The resulting discouragement has forced many filmmakers and artists to flee the country in hope of seeking better opportunities elsewhere.

It may have extremely slowed productions, but has not blocked the path of filmmakers from making films as of yet. Many filmmakers are known to have used their personal funds or borrowed money from friends and family to finance their films.

 Keeping a low-key production, mostly writing indoor scenes, choosing random days and not following an orderly schedule to avoid life threatening situations especially with female actor on the scene.

Despite difficulties and obstacles, filmmakers of the new generation have been trying their best to clean the dusty camera lenses and film a colorful motion picture somewhat presentable to world cinema.

About the author: Leena Alam is an award winning Afghan film and TV actress and a human rights activist. Starting her career in 1998, Alam has appeared in various films, including In a Foreign Land, Loori , A letter to the President and a few more made by the Afghan diaspora filmmakers in the west. She is mostly known to have worked in subjects that speaks on Child Marriage, Gender Equality, Women’s Right and Social Conflicts. Her notable work on these subjects are “Shereen” The struggle of a powerful woman, a taboo-smashing feminist TV drama, and “The Killing of Farkhunda” a re-enactment of the killing of a 27-year-old Afghan woman falsely accused of burning a copy of the Quran

Tags assigned to this article:
Afghan actressAfghanistan cinemaLeena Alam

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