Ambassador Waissi's Inaugural Speech for the First Afghan Film Festival in Canberra

Ambassador Waissi, FAFF2019||

Dignitaries, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Members of the Diplomatic Corps, 

Representatives from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade,

Good evening.

I extend my sincere thanks to all of you who have gathered here tonight to witness a truly historical event. Tonight marks the Opening Night of the First Afghan Film Festival held in Canberra. The Embassy is proud to present the Festival in collaboration with our friends at the ANU Film Group and our sponsors, Mr Mustafa Alande Safi and Mr Basir Abbas.

As I have mentioned, this will be the first Afghan Film Festival hosted in Canberra, and a fitting end to what has been a busy year at the Embassy of Afghanistan. 2019 marks the 50th Anniversary of Afghan-Australian diplomatic relations and the 100th Anniversary of Afghanistan’s Reclamation of Independence, and this Film Festival aims to commemorate both of these significant milestones. I have been humbled by the support that has been shown throughout this year, by all those of you who have regularly attended our events and celebrated alongside us. 

The week-long Festival we are opening tonight promises an exciting line-up of full-length feature films, short films, and documentaries, both classic and contemporary. The Festival boasts 10 exciting screenings; showcasing the breadth of Afghanistan’s filmmaking, directing and acting talent. From nostalgic classics and historical narratives, to Afghanistan’s unrivalled natural landscape, to contemporary films highlighting today’s social issues – this selection of 7 full-length feature films and 3 documentaries and short films offers a unique glimpse at what Afghan cinema is about, and the women and men who drive it.

There will be stimulating panel discussions with academics and filmmakers, and a chance to hear directly from the directors and actors of these brilliant movies – including those who have travelled from all around Australia and from Afghanistan to join us. 

I hope that this will all shed new light on the flourishing cultural dimension of Afghanistan and Australia’s friendly relationship and applauds the contributions of the people of both countries to the arts, sport, security and stability, and social movements. I assure you that the screenings you will be treated to reflect this exciting diversity; each of them a rare and unforgettable insight into Afghanistan’s unique landscape, people and history.

The first AFF is a celebration of the history of Afghan cinema and the talents of the country’s new generation of directors and filmmakers. These brave women and men, with 3 female directed-films in this year’s inaugural festival, draw from diverse backgrounds and exemplify cinema’s role in conveying different narratives and acting as a tool for the wider outreach of these messages. Most importantly, this year’s inaugural AFF is a testimony to the resilience of Afghan people and their dedication to telling the stories of their country. 

I invite you to join in celebrating the survival of Afghan cinema, and its triumph over the forces of extremism, which had once attempted to silence it. 

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