Afghanistan's veiled truth
"Kandahar" a name that's suddenly a household word in the U.S. is a drama that looks unblinkingly at hardship among women, mine victims and others in recent-vintage Afghanistan.
By ROBIN EISGRAU
This film is an unblinking glimpse into the hardships of life in
Afghanistan, and the difficult odyssey of one woman in particular. Inspired
by a true story, "Kandahar" tells the story of Nafas (Nelofer Pazira) an
Afghani woman who has been living in Canada and working as a journalist
when she recieves a disturbing letter from her sister, who has remained in
Her sister, who has been maimed by a land mine, writes of the
oppressive treatment of women and says that she will commit suicide when the
next eclipse happens. With only three days until the eclipse, Nafas attemps
to travel to Kandahar, a difficult undertaking in a country where women are
forbidden to travel alone and are forced to wear the head-to-toe burkha.
|Written and directed by: Mohsen Makhmalbaf.|
Cast: Niloufar Pazira, Hassan Tantai, Sadou Teymouri.
Related links: Official site
Nafas first travels with an Afghani family, posing as one of the several
wives, until bandits leave her abandoned. Then she hires a boy expelled from
a Koran school to be her guide, until she becomes sick after drinking
tainted water and then meets a black American man working in a small
village as a doctor. They travel on and Nafas' journey comes to an end on a
Makhmalbaf's film extracts a poetic lyricism from the
meagerness of the setting. There are many moments of compositional grace,
such as when Nafas lifts her burkha and answers an interrogator's questions,
with light from the mesh creating a shadow pattern across her face, and when
dozens of women in burkhas of various colors move forward in a bridal
procession across the desert. There's even surreallism when prosthetic legs
for land mine victims at a red cross camp parachute to the ground.
feels for Nafas as she tries to reach her sister and there's also a strong
poignancy in the scene depicting the closing of a school for girls, where
the last lesson is in avoiding land mines.
Filmed under arduous conditions
in a village on the Iran-Afghanistan border, "Kandahar" went on to win the
Ecumenical Jury Prize at this year's Cannes Film Festival. For a look at the
country at the center of the news that provides far more information than a
CNN soundbite, "Kandahar" should be seen.
|DECEMBER 15, 2001|
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