March 22, 2 pm
Selections from the Afghan Films Archive
(1967–80, 54 min.)
In these newsreels, documentary and propaganda shorts, and feature film clips drawn from the archive of Afghan Films, Afghanistan’s national film institute, the changing fashions, mores, and politics of the constantly reconfigured state are reflected. With films from the end of the monarchy (the Zahir Shah period), the Daoud republic, the Afghan Communist republic, and the Soviet puppet state.
(The House of History, 1996, 20 min., dir. Qader Tahiri)
The only documentary produced by Afghan Films during the civil war years, The House of History is an intensely personal essay film directed by longtime cameramen Qader Tahiri that incorporates footage shot by six other cameramen from 1991–96, and poetic narration by Sher Mohammed Khara. The first half chronicles the destruction of Kabul during the civil war, while the second half meditates on the ruin of Kabul’s archaeological museum and the efforts to save fragments left behind after its destruction in 1991.
Fiction Shorts by the Jump Cut Film Collective
(2009–10, 10 min.)
The Jump Cut Film Collective was founded in Kabul in 2009 by a group of young, independent filmmakers, who share both production duties and formal concerns. In the Name of Opium (dir. Sayed Jalal Hussaini) lies at the more experimental end of their output, with a completely nontraditional, circular or open-ended narrative structure and no dialogue. Formally, however, it is among the most completely realized of their films, with strong cinematography setting up a series of memorable images, each a small story in itself, and each a part of a larger opium-driven vicious cycle.
Feature: Akhtar Maskara
(Akhtar the Joker, 1980, 90 min., dir. Latif Ahmadi)
A stinging social critique of the gap between rich and poor, old and new Kabulis at the end of the 1970s, and the story of an unusual young man who falls into the cracks in between. Based on the novel by Aham Rahaward Zariab, and commissioned by the Parcham government, the film was shot by beloved director Latif Ahmadi in only eighteen days; perhaps because of the literary source material, perhaps because of the compressed production time, it has a quality unlike anything else in Afghan cinema, with sharp cinematography, a twisting plot, and occasional breaks where our unreliable narrator (Faqir Nabi) addresses the camera directly.
Total running time 174 min