Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Afghanistan on the Silver Screen

Last week a group of FMF and Ms. interns took a little after-work field trip to see the Sundance award winning documentary, Afghan Star. Here at the FMF, Afghanistan is a daily topic of conversation as one of the organization's major prioritites is the Campaign for Afghan Women and Girls. This summer, the west coast FMF interns have been working with board member Helen Cho to give new life to the campaign, so we thought it would be very appropriate to educate ourselves more about Afghanistan through Afghan Star.

Afghan Star follows an Afghan tv show of the same name which emulates shows life American Idol. Although there is nothing too controversial about a show like this in the United States, in a country that has faced war for the past thirty years and was transformed under the rule of the Taliban, the show is revolutionary. Under the rule of the Taliban from 1996-2001, music was outlawed completely, and today it is still considered blasphemous by the Muhajideen and religious elite. Although the top contestants are now famous among the 11 million fans of the show (1/3 of the country's population), it has also put thier lives in danger, particularaly for the three female contestants (3 out of 2000).

As the documentary states, this seemingly trivial television show is groundbreaking in Afghanistan because for many of the younger generation, sending in a text message vote for thier favorite contestant is the first time they have participated in a democracy in which the vote of a man and a woman are equal. Furthermore, it is significant that contestants from all ethnic and tribal backgrounds share the same stage as equals.

Afghan Star is a deeply moving and eye opening educational experience. As you follow the contestants through their experience, particluarly Setara, the 21 year old woman who faces death threats daily because she danced on stage, or the young female engineering student who constructs her own satellite each week out of house hold items in order to tune in to the show, you will be angered, terrified, inspired, and humbled.We applaud and thank the film's director Havana Marking for her remarkable contribution to our education and understanding of Afghanistan. Check here for a theater near you! www.zeitgeistfilms.com/afghanstar/

No comments: