Filmmaker Sahraa Karimi dreams of going back to Kabul, says, 'Don't let Afghan cinema die'

WION Web Team
New DelhiUpdated: Sep 15, 2021, 09:43 AM IST


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Filmmaker Sahraa Karimi, who fled Afghanistan last month after Kabul fell to the Taliban, still hopes to go back home one day.

Filmmaker Sahraa Karimi, who fled Afghanistan last month after Kabul fell to the Taliban, still hopes to go back home one day.
Karimi, the first woman to Afghan Film, the country's national cinema body, spoke to the press virtually on the sidelines of the ongoing Toronto International Film Festival(TIFF) and said she is trying to start a new life, a new journey but is very sad, of course. The director added that anytime she is alone, she thinks immediately to go to Kabul.

Karimi revealed, she fled her country and landed in Kiev, Ukraine with help from the Slovak Film and Television Academy.

Since then Karimi has been conducting interviews and participating in major industry events like the Venice Film Festival and TIFF to share her experiences as a refugee and get support for Afghan cinema and its filmmakers. 

Karimi also stated that she was trying to get answers from the now Taliban-controlled Afghan government as to whether or not she still holds her post in Afghan Film but has yet to receive an answer.

"This is the reality. They don`t tell me that I am not the general director of Afghan Film but they don`t tell me anything else," Karimi said. The filmmaker expressed that she wished to go back to her country if she was allowed to continue her work but was doubtful if she, as a woman, would be allowed to do so.

Before Taliban took over Afghanistan, Karimi revealed she was trying to plan a national film festival in the country and trying to open more movie theatres across Afghanistan.

On August 15 after the Taliban entered the city, Karimi said she headed to the airport with her family and two assistants from Afghan film and by August 17, they were on a Turkish flight to Ukraine.

"It was like a film," she said of the experience trying to get onto an aeroplane, likening the experience of the Korean film `Train to Busan`.

"It was like zombies are coming to attack you and you are running."

Karimi plans to turn her experience fleeing Afghanistan into a feature titled `Flight from Kabul`, hoping to finish a first draft of the screenplay later this month, and is soon set to teach at Italy`s National Film School in Rome.

Karimi also blamed the Afghan government for not providing enough support to the arts, pointing out how cinema was an agent of change.

"One of the biggest mistakes this past 20 years of the government of Afghanistan is that they didn`t support art and culture and cinema. They didn`t even build one cinema in Afghanistan." said the filmmaker, noting that there were no film funds or attempts to build out infrastructure for productions.

"If we had real cinema, if we had real production, if the private sector and government-supported filmmakers to make a film industry, then we wouldn`t be in this situation right now," she said.

She appealed to young Afghan filmmakers to not let cinema die in the country. "Do not let Afghan cinema die. Even if you are in exile.

"I just ask all filmmakers around the world, please don`t be silent about the situation in Afghanistan and don`t be silent about the cinema of Afghanistan."

(With inputs from agencies)