The 2nd Festival of Short and Documentary Films, Kabul
Borrowing the Neighbor’s Axe
by Marjan Riyahi

The 2nd Festival of Short and Documentary Films, was held on June 16-21 at conference halls of Esteghlal High School and Kabul University of Education with the motto of “Discovering New Talents” in collaboration with a number of Afghan institutions as well as Goethe Institute of Germany, the French Cultural Center, and the Iranian Short Films Website. This rather new film festival consisted of national and international sections. Some 130 Iranian films were awaiting entry out of which the selection committee chose Under the Pine Trees (Hadi Afarideh), Sewas (Mohammad Ali Hashemzehi), Call of Illusion (Kereshmeh Afsari), Noise (Babak Tabrizi Minaghi) and A Time to Smoke (Bita Khodadad). None of the Iranian filmmakers were invited to Kabul thanks to limitations in the festival’s budget. Malek Shafi’i, secretary of the festival, says that Iranian films were selected based on geographical location. The committee wanted to have films from various Iranian provinces rather than choosing films only from Tehran. The organizers announced later that thanks to the high quality of the Iranian films they were planning an Iranian film week to show all 130 Iranian entries. Germany, France, Pakistan and Tajikistan had taken part at international competition section of the festival with five films each. 
The festival gave me the opportunity to visit Kabul for the first time. Afghanistan was not the country I had seen on CNN and the BBC or even the Iranian media. Afghanistan was recovering from scars of many years of war. Her young population is so eager to learn and communicate with other countries. The cinema of Afghanistan has been taking shape after the fall of Taliban. It is being nourished by European NGOs and cultural centers. There are also two Afghan government bodies, namely the Afghan Filmmakers Union chaired by Javanshir Heidari and Afghan Film chaired by Engineer Latif Ahmadi, but they do not receive much support from the government.

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