Return to Kandahar (DVD)
For several weeks, BuzzFlash.com will be the exclusive seller of this remarkable documentary that provides you with a close-up look at post-Taliban Afghanistan through the eyes of a young expatriate female journalist, Nelofer Pazira.
There's a story here -- within a story -- that makes it all the more compelling. This is, first of all, about a personal journey, an attempt by Pazira to find her childhood friend who had written her, during the Taliban regime, that she was contemplating suicide because of the plight of women under the fundamentalist Mullahs. Pazira's first search for Dyana was undertaken in the late 1990s and aborted because of the difficulty she faced traveling in Afghanistan at the time.
But her effort came to the attention of a prominent Iranian director, Moshen Makmalbaf, who made a fictionalized movie, starring Pazira, about her journey, which he titled simply "Kandahar." It received international acclaim.
As a result of the success of "Kandahar," Pazira, now a resident of Canada, became a spokesperson for the plight of Afghan women. In this role, she met Paul Jay, an award winning Canadian documentary filmmaker and producer for the CBC.
Now -- with Jay filming as "Return to Kandahar" begins -- Pazira flies to Kabul to resume her effort to learn what became of Dyana. The documentary begins, metaphorically, where the fictionalized "Kandahar" left off.
Pazira is a beautiful, captivating woman who is filled with curiosity and intensity. She is both a native and a stranger to the "new" Afghanistan. Her quest to find Dyana becomes the vehicle for stunning footage of what Afghanistan looks like today, images that you are hard put to find on the television news.
This is not an overtly political documentary. Pazira has a mission to accomplish, and it is a personal quest. But she is far too smart, reflective and emancipated not to get caught up in the social and political situation that confronts her. All the time, Jay's camera is there, a witness to her encounters and the Afghanistan that we don't hear much about or see much of.
There are some remarkable scenes, such as when she pleads with the infamous warlord Dostum or when she argues with men who don't believe that women should be treated as equals.
Paul Jay, in his director's notes, comments:
As Pazira seeks out word of Dyana, she is also acutely aware that the making of this documentary is a way to awaken Westerners to the ongoing plight of Afghanistan.
This a mesmerizing film in which the realities that are revealed are far more powerful than fiction.