Talk: An Afghan Film Odyssey, 2001-2021
Date 30 Oct (Sat)
Time 10:50PM (After screening of Hava, Maryam, Ayesha, Free Admission )
Language Conducted in English
Venue House 4, Broadway Cinematheque
Guests Speakers: Sahraa Karimi (head of Afghan Film, and director of Hava, Maryam, Ayesha), Roya Sadat (director of A Letter to the President), Diana Saqeb (social activist and director of 25 Percent), Sandra Schafer (Berlin-based artist-filmmaker and specialist

When we decided late last year to dedicate a section of the HKAFF to Afghan cinema, the idea is to explore how Afghan filmmakers navigate a post-Taliban” world after the ousting of a tyrannical regime which, among other things, banished women from all forms of public life and outlawed music and films for fostering “moral corruption”. Never did we imagine then that, today, Afghanistan has once again fallen into that fundamentalist abyss. The spectres of the past has returned not only to haunt the present, but to dictate the country’s foreseeable future.

Of course it’s naïve, churlish even, to suggest the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 has transformed the country into a model democracy, as subsequent administrations struggled to rid Afghan society of corruption, violence and bigotry. What mattered during the past two decades, however, was how these problems could be discussed in public, debated in parliament and depicted on screens big and small for all to see.

With the films in this modest selection, we aim to revisit some of the visible results of a time when filmmakers make use of a new-found freedom of expression to reflect on the grave realities around them. The films mourn the anguish of those who suffered in the recent past, condemn those trying to write people and their cultures out of history, and celebrate those who stand by their ideals to fight for a better future.

With this programme, we pay tribute and stand in solidarity with these filmmakers who fought to make the world go beyond the headlines and see the human beings caught in an unfolding historical tragedy. They dared to dream; it’s our turn to buckle up and be a witness to their stories.


After the Taliban was chased away from Kabul in 2001, Afghan cinema — which was literally decimated by the extremist regime — began a slow and steady resurgence. Homegrown films reappeared in cinemas, and directors — especially women filmmakers produced work which mesmerised audiences at home and abroad. With the Taliban returning to power now, what beckons for Afghan cinema?

Free Admission