Kandahar strikes universal chord

Jennifer McCormack

“Kandahar,” a documentary style film about a female journalist attempting to rescue her sister in the aformentioned city, was made in 2001 but is extremely pertinent to today’s world situation. The film takes place in Kandahar, Afghanistan, which until recently was a stronghold for the Taliban.

The film follows Nafas, a woman who immigrated to Canada as a child, on her return to her homeland, Afghanistan. As a female, Nafas cannot travel in the country alone, so she dons the obligatory burka (a cloth veil) and joins a group of refugees who are trying to get back to Afghanistan for various reasons.

No professional actors were used in the making of “Kandahar.” The lead role of Nafas is played by Nelofer Pazira, and the movie is based on her real life experiences.

Iranian writer/director Mohsen Makhmalbaf (who also directed “Gabbeh” and “The Silence”) filmed “Kandahar” surreptitiously in a small town just outside of Taliban-controlled territory close to the border shared by Iran and Afghanistan. He and his crew were under constant threat from the Taliban while producing the movie.

In addition to Pazira’s life experiences, the film contains re-creations of events witnessed by Makhmalbaf himself when he traveled to Afghanistan. For example, there is a scene where a group of one-legged Afghans is struggling to obtain prosthetic limbs that are being dropped onto the sand from helicopters. While this appears surreal, it is based on an actual occurrence.

“Kandahar,” which was made before any military intervention by the United States in Afghanistan, debuted at the Cannes Film Festival in the spring of 2001 where it was the recipient of the coveted Ecumenical Jury Prize. Since Sept. 11, “Kandahar’s” message produces a greater resonance and has been drawing larger audiences wherever shown.

“Kandahar” will be playing on Saturday at 7 p.m., Sunday at 3:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. and Monday at 7 p.m. in the Connelly Center Cinema. Admission is $3 for students and $4 for all others.

At the Monday night showing, there will be a presentation titled “Veils of Fears,” led by Eran Preis, a filmmaker and professor from Temple University.

For additional information about the Cultural Film Series call the Communication Department at (610) 519-4750 or visit the Cultural Film web site at www.culturalfilms.villanova.edu/.