It's been a year since the event that was to alter everything, but now that Dubya's trying to change the focus to a different enemy, those who are worried about the unfinished business in Afghanistan might be interested in catching a re-release of Kandahar.
This lightly scripted drama, by the renowned Iranian filmmaker, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, was made before Sept. 11 of last year, during the period when Afghanistan was still under the grimly medieval command of the Taliban. As with many Iranian films, the line between fiction and documentary is very blurry. Here, the central character is an Afghan exile named Nafas (who is played by Afghan-Canadian journalist Nelofer Pazira) who is trying to return so that she might save her suicidal sister.
It takes nothing away from the film to acknowledge that the central character and the film's thin plot are little more than contrivances to give the film an excuse to plumb the horrors of life under gun-toting Talibs. In her quest for her sister, Nafas encounters the different ways that people are oppressed under the Taliban, including a physician who must treat women through a hole in a sheet.
The film was shot on the Iranian-Afghan border with a mostly nonprofessional cast and Makhmalbaf worked under extraordinarily difficult circumstances to get it made. Kandahar's seams may show, but the powerful subject matter and Makhmalbaf's eye for striking visuals have earned widespread plaudits for this film.
Kandahar will be showing on Thursday, Oct. 3, on the N.C. State campus. If you miss that one, mark your calendars for Nov. 8, when the film will be screened by Duke's Freewater Presentations.
See "Special Showings" for more information. --David Fellerath