Kabul Holds International Film Festival

August 3, 2009
Award From 4th Kabul International Film Festival

About the Author: Beverly Mather-Marcus serves as a Cultural Affairs Officer at U.S. Embassy Kabul.

I saw something on July 23 that I never expected to see in Kabul – a full-blown film festival awards ceremony, complete with pop stars, famous presenters and a video montage of the nominees. There wasn’t a red carpet, but there were two lines of kids lining the entrance waving and shouting greetings to everyone as they entered. The awards ceremony concluded the 4th Kabul International Documentary and Short Film Festival, which was themed “The Sky Is the Limit” and ran from July 18 -23. The festival showcased documentaries and short films from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, India, Tajikistan, Britain, France, Germany, and Spain.

The crowd attending the awards ceremony was a mix of artists, fans, local dignitaries, and, perhaps best of all, their families. There were many fantastic moments. One of my favorites was watching a little girl, maybe three years old, trying to make her way through the crowd to her father, who looked as if he were one of the event organizers, before her mother quickly caught her.

The ceremony opened with an interpretive dance (again something I was surprised and delighted to see in Kabul) and a speech by Engineer Latif, one of Afghanistan’s most prominent filmmakers. He detailed the long journey Afghan film has made: literally from nothing to the burgeoning cultural institution it is now. He drew thunderous applause from the crowd when he said that no one could say Afghanistan does not have a real film industry because they are only making documentaries and short films. As he put it, “It may seem small, but it is theirs, and it is a beginning.”

Other favorite moments came when the awards for Best Child Actor and Best Male Actor were given out, both for roles in I Want a Horse, Not a Wife. The little boy who won said “For the whole movie I was asking for a horse, and now I have one!” (The award statue is a rearing horse.) The winner of Best Male Actor was moved almost to tears in his acceptance speech, stating that he watched televised awards ceremonies from everywhere else for his whole life, and he never dreamed the day would come that he could accept an award in his home country.



United States
August 3, 2009

Zharkov in U.S.A. writes:

So when will our nation-building in Afghanistan be complete or is this occupation going to be a permanent, ongoing thing?

When we allow them to rebuild their own country themselves?

Do we really want a world that mirrors American society so much that they have a duplicate Hollywood, a copy of our t.v. networks, a clone of our government, fast food outlets in every village, and they all speak English with an Afghani accent?

Imitation is flattering, but is that what it takes to get us out of their country?

What is the mission now? Originally, it was to get Osama bin Laden. Then the mission was changed to remove the Taliban from power. We did that. The mission seems to have changed again to be one of eliminating all resistance to U.S. occupation. Isn't that a little extreme?

No country accepts occupation by foreign troops gladly for long, do they?

Massachusetts, USA
August 4, 2009

Celeste in Massachusetts writes:

Bev, you have such a nice style of writing. Made me feel like I was there with you, if that's possible. I love you and pray for you all, Celeste

New Mexico, USA
August 5, 2009

Eric in New Mexico writes:

It is good to see these types of things emerging, it means the social fabric is on the mend in process of coming full- circle to the Afghanistan that folks once knew prior to the Soviet invasion.

New Mexico, USA
August 12, 2009

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Beverly, I wanted to call your attention to this news item, as it seems relevent to your position there at Embassy Kabul.

Given U.S. focus on good governance and anti-corruption in general globally, and President Obama's awarding of medals of freedom recently, what could the U.S. Treasury Dept. and the Dept. of State Cultural affairs section come up with to recognize this fellow's bravery?

As a public servant, to describe his actions as "above and beyond the call of duty" would be understating his actions.

And if it requires a US citizen to nominate him for official recongnition by my government, let me be the first, and not the last.

Do I hear a "second"?

Best Regards,





"Mr. Askarzai, the 59-year-old head of cash issuance at the central bank, controls the key to a presidential vault and the treasure that for years was secretly stashed inside. He works in a dimly lighted office, behind a cluttered desk, with a drawer full of skeleton keys. Until now, the man with a pencil mustache and swept-back hair has refused to be photographed or identified by name in accounts of how he thwarted the Taliban's attempt to loot a hoard of ancient gold.

Later this month, the low-profile central banker will step out from the shadows. Mr. Askarzai is to receive a medal from Afghanistan's president, Hamid Karzai, according to a spokesman for the president. In a time of widespread government corruption, some Afghan officials are pointing to Mr. Askarzai as a shining example of putting the nation's interests before one's own.

"He's a forgotten hero," says central bank chief Abdul Qadeer Fitrat, who nominated him."

---end excerpt---


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