A Unique Glimpse of Afghan Cinema in Canberra

First Afghan Film Festival||

First Afghan Film Festival
15th – 21st November 2019
ANU Kambri Precinct Cultural Centre

Screening program

The First Afghan Film Festival commemorates the 50 Year Anniversary of Afghanistan- Australia relations and the 100th Anniversary of Afghanistan’s Reclamation of Independence. It also seeks to shed new light on the flourishing cultural dimension of Afghanistan and Australia’s friendly relationship and applaud the contributions of the people of both countries to the arts, sport, security and stability, and social movements.

The inaugural AFF is a testimony to the resilience of Afghan people and their dedication to telling the stories of their country, and a celebration of the triumph of Afghan cinema over the forces of extremism, which had once attempted to silence it.

All screenings are open to all and free-of-charge. For more information and regular updates please visit www.anufg.org.au/afghan2019 and follow #FAFF2019 on our social media platforms.



2019, 150 minutes, 15+

Director: Sahraa Karimi

Screening: Friday 15th November, 7:30pm

Set in Kabul, Hava, Maryam and Ayesha follows the lives of three Afghan women who represent different social backgrounds, each attempting to navigate big changes. Hava is a traditional woman who is invisible to the world and finds her only joy in talking to the baby in her belly. Maryam, an educated TV news reporter, is seeking a divorce from her unfaithful husband when she discovers she is pregnant. And 18-year-old Ayesha agrees to marry her cousin after her boyfriend disappears upon hearing the news of her pregnancy. Afghan entry for the Best International Feature Film at the 2019 Academy Awards. Play Trailer.



1986, 45 minutes

Director: Siddiq Barmak

Screening: Saturday 16th November, 4:00pm

A favourite of Afghan cinema and a nostalgia-inducing pick, Begana is a riveting tale directed by Golden Globe-winning Afghan director, Siddiq Barmak, and features Salam Sangi in the lead role; Afghan cinema’s answer to Amitabh Bachchan and one of its greatest stars. In this classic, Sangi plays a farmer working for a feudal landlord, who finds himself dishonoured by the landlord’s son and must seek his revenge. This screening will be opened by Salam Sangi and offers the exclusive opportunity to participate in a Q&A session with him and gain a rare insight to the world of Afghan cinema. 



2014, 55 minutes, documentary

Director: Fahim Hashimy

Screening: Saturday 16th November, 5:00pm

By the turn of the nineteenth century, more than 3000 men from Afghanistan had made the long and harrowing voyage out to Australia to drive the camel trains in the country’s earliest colonial exploration, and to contribute to the development of trade and transportation througout Outback Australia. A significant number married Aboriginal or European wives and formed small settlements called ‘Ghan towns’. This screening features a panel discussion with Fahim Hashimy and Dr Mike Smith, academic and expert on Australia’s Afghan cameleers. Play Trailer.



2004, 83 minutes

Director: Siddiq Barmak

Screening: Saturday 16th November, 7:30pm

A 12-year-old Afghan girl and her mother lose their jobs when the Taliban closes the hospital where they work. The Taliban have also forbidden women to leave their houses without a male "legal companion." With her husband and brother dead, killed in battle, the mother is left with nowhere to turn. Feeling that she has no other choice, she disguises her daughter as a boy. Now called 'Osama,' the girl embarks on a terrifying and confusing journey as she tries to hide her true identity. Inspired by a true story, the film is directed by the country’s much-celebrated Siddiq Barmak. Osama was the Golden Globe winner for Best Foreign Language Film and for the International Critics Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. Play Trailer.




2019, 48 min, documentary

Director: Parwiz Shamal

Screening: Sunday 17th November, 4:00pm

The Pamir region is aptly known as the ‘Roof of the World’; typifying Afghanistan’s famous mountainous landscape. Lying at the confluence of some of the world’s tallest mountain ranges, the peaks of this part of Afghanistan reach to 4000 metres above sea-level, where the cold and wind mean that even trees cannot grow. It is this environment which the Pamir’s residents must compete with to survive. Directed, produced and filmed by Afghan news channel TOLO’s Parwiz Shamal, based on his own travels, What I Saw on the Roof of the World offers a rare glimpse at how Afghan Pamiris have kept some signs of their culture alive despite their isolation and lack of access to basic services and facilities. The screening will be opened by Parwiz Shamal, who will be travelling from Kabul to participate in the Film Festival and offer an exciting Q&A session on experiences in the Pamir and his travels throughout Afghanistan. Play Trailer.


Orphanage.jpgTHE ORPHANAGE

2019, 90 minutes

Director: Shahrbanoo Sadat

Screening: Sunday 17th November, 6:00pm

It is 1989 and 15-year-old orphan Qodrat daydreams about Bollywood as he scrapes a living scalping tickets on the streets of Kabul. The police arrest him and send him to a Soviet orphanage, and after Islamist forces take over the government, he and his fellow orphans find themselves defending their new home. The Orphanage is beautifully photographed portrait of Kabul in 1989 that blends gritty realism with folklore and bursts of Bollywood musical. It was written and directed by emerging Afghan film-maker Shahrbanoo Sadat, whose debut was the acclaimed Wolf and Sheep in 2016. It had its worldwide premiere at the prestigious Director’s Fortnight of the Cannes Film Festival in May 2019. Play Trailer.



2017, 83 minutes

Director: Roya Sadat

Screening: Monday 18th November, 7:30pm

Soraya works hard to juggle her role as a married mother of two with her job as head of the Kabul Crime Division, which brings her into conflict with her less successful husband Karim. When she has to investigate her father-in-law, Karim attacks her and she accidentally kills him in self-defence. As a result, she is convicted of murder and sentenced to death. Her only hope is to write a letter to the president of Afghanistan himself, pleading her case. A Letter to the President was written and directed by Roya Sadat, the first woman director since the Taliban era. It was Afghanistan’s official submission to the Best Foreign Language Film category for the 90th Academy Awards in 2018. "A Letter to the President" is the first Afghan film ever to be debuted at the Venice Film Festival. That is a "first" also for the Afghan film industry. Play Trailer.



2012, 102 minutes

Director: Atiq Rahimi

Screening: Tuesday 19th November, 7:30pm

In an unspecified war-torn country a woman watches over her husband who has been left in a coma after being shot in the neck. As she sits with him she tells him of her suffering and loneliness over the years, and the dreams she had - all the things she could never say before, although they’d been married for a decade. He thereby becomes her ‘patience stone’ (or syngue sabour) a magic stone which, according to Persian mythology, can shield its user from suffering and hardship. The Patience Stone was directed and co-written by Atiq Rahimi, adapted from his own bestselling novel of the same name. It was Afghanistan’s official entry of to the Best Foreign Language Film category for the 85th Academy Awards in 2013. Play Trailer.



2018, 78 minutes

Director: Benjamin Gilmour

Screening: Wednesday 20th November, 7:30pm

Mike Wheeler, a former Australian soldier returns to Afghanistan to seek forgiveness from the family of a civilian man he accidentally killed during the war. In doing so he puts his life in the hands of the Jirga – the village justice system. Jirga movingly depicts the weight of a soldier's grief and the human capacity for change in the wake of awful tragedy. Written and directed by Benjamin Gilmour, it portrays Afghanistan not as a ravaged battleground but as a place of stark beauty with a rich cultural history. It was Australia’s official submission for the Best Foreign Language Film category for the 91st Academy Awards in 2019. Play Trailer.



2018, 90 minutes

Director: Travis Beard

Screening: Thursday 21st November, 7:30pm

This documentary reveals a unique side of modern Afghan culture through the eyes of the Afghan youths who started District Unknown, the country's first metal band. The band is a direct result of vast amounts of non-military aid provided by the U.S government in an attempt to counter conflict with culture. However, their freedom of expression comes at a cost as the band and their followers clash with the conservative elements around them. Directed by Australian journalist and filmmaker Travis Beard, who lived in Kabul for seven years, RocKabul features never before seen footage of Kabul and the underground party scene to show a part of Afghan life that is rarely shown in Western media. Play Trailer.

* * *

For additional information please contact the Embassy at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call us at +61 2 62827311.

Please find press releases in English, Dari and Pashto.

The Festival Posters are available in English and Dari/Pashto. 

Last modified on Thursday, 14/11/2019

Go to Top