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West Asian cinema
Iranian New Wave

This article addresses Persian and Pashto cinemas of Afghanistan. For Pashto cinema in general please see: Pashto films industry.

Cinema entered Afghanistan at the beginning of 20th century. The political changes of Afghanistan has not allowed the cinema of the country to grow over the years. However, numerous Pashto and Persian films have been made both inside and outside Afghanistan throughout the 20th century. Cinema of Afghanistan entered a new phase since 2001. Several Afghan films have attracted international critics and the public.

Contents

History

Amir Habibullah (1901-1919) introduced film to Afghanistan, but in the royal court only. In 1923-24, the first projector - "magic box" or "mageek lantan" (magic lantern) - showed the first silent film in Paghman to the public. The first Afghan film, "Love and Friendship (film)", was produced in 1946.[1]

In 1968, the Afghan Film Organization was built. When the Taliban took power in 1996 in Kabul, cinemas were attacked and many films were burnt.

Before year 2000


When the fledgling Afghan Film was opened in 1965 it produced documentaries and news films highlighting the official meetings and conferences of the government. All these films were shown in cinemas before feature films, which were usually from India. The first feature film made in Kabul by Afghan Film using Afghan artists was ‘Like Eagles’ starring Zahir Waida and a young girl named Najia. Soon after this Afghan Film made a three-part film with the collective title ‘Ages’, which comprised ‘Smugglers’, ‘Suitors’ and ‘Friday Night’. Two other films from the same era are ‘Village Tunes’ and ‘Difficult Days’. All of these films were shot in black and white. Famous film artists of this era included Khan Aga Sarvar, Rafig Seddig, Aziz alla Hadaf, Mashal Honar and Parvin Sanatgar (f). The first colour films produced by Afghan Film in the late 1960s were ‘Run Away’ (Farar), ‘Love Epic’ (Hema Se Ishg), ‘Saboor Soldier’, ‘Ash’ (Khakestar), ‘Last Wishes’ (Akharin Arezo) and ‘Migrating Birds’ (Paranda Mohajer). These films, although not as technically proficient as those from abroad, struck a chord with Afghans because they mirrored their life. However, cinema was still seen only in the larger centres. During the late 1960s and 1970s Soviet aid included cultural training and scholarships were offered to students interested in studying film. However, since Afghanistan had no film academy, future filmmakers had to apprentice on the job. The civil wars of the 1990s were not conducive to creative work and many people working in the Afghan film industry escaped to Iran or Pakistan, where they were able to make videos for NGOs. The Taliban forbade the viewing of television and films and cinemas were closed, either becoming tea shops or restaurants or falling into a state of disrepair


Before year 2000


When the fledgling Afghan Film was opened in 1965 it produced documentaries and news films highlighting the official meetings and conferences of the government. All these films were shown in cinemas before feature films, which were usually from India. The first feature film made in Kabul by Afghan Film using Afghan artists was ‘Like Eagles’ starring Zahir Waida and a young girl named Najia. Soon after this Afghan Film made a three-part film with the collective title ‘Ages’, which comprised ‘Smugglers’, ‘Suitors’ and ‘Friday Night’. Two other films from the same era are ‘Village Tunes’ and ‘Difficult Days’. All of these films were shot in black and white. Famous film artists of this era included Khan Aga Sarvar, Rafig Seddig, Aziz alla Hadaf, Mashal Honar and Parvin Sanatgar (f). The first colour films produced by Afghan Film in the late 1960s were ‘Run Away’ (Farar), ‘Love Epic’ (Hema Se Ishg), ‘Saboor Soldier’, ‘Ash’ (Khakestar), ‘Last Wishes’ (Akharin Arezo) and ‘Migrating Birds’ (Paranda Mohajer). These films, although not as technically proficient as those from abroad, struck a chord with Afghans because they mirrored their life. However, cinema was still seen only in the larger centres. During the late 1960s and 1970s Soviet aid included cultural training and scholarships were offered to students interested in studying film. However, since Afghanistan had no film academy, future filmmakers had to apprentice on the job. The civil wars of the 1990s were not conducive to creative work and many people working in the Afghan film industry escaped to Iran or Pakistan, where they were able to make videos for NGOs. The Taliban forbade the viewing of television and films and cinemas were closed, either becoming tea shops or restaurants or falling into a state of disrepair.

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2000s

Since 2000, the cinema of Afghanistan has slowly started to emerge from a lengthy period of silence. Before the September 11th attacks, Afghanistan-based Iranian director Mohsen Makhmalbaf attracted world attention to Afghanistan with his celebrated movie, Kandahar. It was an attempt to tell the world about a forgotten country. The film brought the cinema of Afghanistan to the Cannes film festival for the first time in history. Later Samira Makhmalbaf, Siddiq Barmak, Horace Shansab, Yassamin Maleknasr and Abolfazl Jalili made a significant contribution to Dari (Persian) cinema in Afghanistan. Barmak's first Persian/Pashtu film Osama (2003) won several awards at film festivals in Cannes and London. Siddiq Barmak is also director of the Afghan Children Education Movement (ACEM), an association that promotes literacy, culture and the arts, founded by Iranian film director Mohsen Makhmalbaf. The school trains actors and directors for the emerging cinema of Afghanistan. In 2006 Afghanistan joined the Central Asian and Southern Caucasus Film Festivals Confederation.

Zolykha's Secret (2007), (Rahze Zolykha in Persian) is also among the first feature films from post-Taliban Afghanistan. Lyrical and tragic, the film has played to full houses at major film festivals. The film's director, Horace Ahmad Shansab, trained young Afghan filmmakers and made the film entirely on location in Afghanistan.

Apart from cinema in Persian, Pashto cinema is also flourishing in Afghanistan. Several Pashto language films have been made since the fall of the Taliban. Also several Pashto films have been made by foreigners like "Good Morning Afghanistan" (2003) by Camilla Nielsson.

In the 1970s and 1980s, it was not difficult to get women to act in films. The war and the Taliban rule changed the situation. Today women are increasingly represented in the cinema of Afghanistan. Talented actors like Amina Jafari, Saba Sahar and Marina Gulbahari have emerged over the last decade.

Many documentaries have been made in Afghanistan since the Taliban, most notably 16 Days in Afghanistan by Mithaq Kazimi and Postcards from Tora Bora by Wazhmah Osman.

The Boy who Plays on the Buddhas of Bamiyan a documentary shot by award-winning British director Phil Grabsky was released in 2001 and went on to win numerous awards worldwide.

There is also a monthly magazine, Theme, that is published by Afghan Cinema Club that focuses on Afghan and international cinema.[2]

Outside Afghanistan

Since many filmmakers escaped the country due to the wars, they began to make films outside Afghanistan. Some notable films made outside Afghanistan include Shirin Gul-o-Shir Agha trilogy made in Russia, Foreign Land, Sheraghai Daghalbaaz, In The Wrong Hands, Shade of Fire, 3 Friends, Al Qarem in United States, Shekast in Pakistan, Aftaab e Bighroob in Tajikistan and Kidnapping in Germany.

Most notable of all were Academy-Award submission FireDancer and France-based film Khakestar-o-khak.

Foreign Films

Many foreign films were made within Afghanistan which include The Beast (1988) and Khuda Gawah.

Since the fall of Taliban films made in or about Afghanistan include, Bollywood film Kabul Express, Escape From Taliban, British Film In This World and Hollywood-produced Kite Runner.

Popular Hindi cinema or Bollywood is incredibly popular among Afghans due to the country's close proximity and strong links with Pakistan, which is also a huge Bollywood market. They were banned during the Taliban era but have since made a remarkable comeback.

Afghan Film (AFO)

Afghan Film also known as Afghan Film Organization (AFO) is Afghanistan's state-run film company. It was established in 1968 and the current president is Latif Ahmadi.

Notable Individuals

Actors

Actresses

  • Ghazal Gul
  • Shugufta

Directors

Writers

  • Abdul Wahid Nazari
  • Abdul Qadeer Pashtunmal
  • Mohammad Asif Bahaduray
  • Mohammad Nader Danish

References

  1. ^ 3continents - Programme 2004
  2. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/persian/afghanistan/2009/05/090509_dn_tame_afghan_mag.shtml

External links


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