In her hands, a TIFF documentary “For the Memory of Afghanistan” | TIFF 2022

Zarifa Ghafari was 26 when she became the mayor of Maidan Shar, the capital of Wardak Province near Kabul. By choosing to place this young politician at the center of their documentary, Afghan journalist and director Tamana Ayazi and German director Marcel Mittelseven (known for his work in the Middle East) initially wanted to tell the story of a generation of women fighting for change in Afghanistan.

This amazing young generation of empowered women trying to change the country, but at the same time facing many challenges – in terms of security – and facing a conservative mindset and context, even within their own familiesdescribes Marcel Mitelseven.

The movie is not autobiographical, it is the story of part of Zarifa’s life. When filming began in early 2020, the United States was in the midst of talks with the Taliban to withdraw its forces from the country.

Filmmakers Tamana Ayazi and Marcel Mittelseven were in Toronto to present their documentary In Her Hands.

Photo: Radio Canada / Mehrdad Nazari

In the following months, until the fall of Kabul in August 2021, the two directors would accompany the young woman daily, showing the transformations in the country as well as her tragic fate: she survived three attempted murders, her father was murdered.

When Kabul falls, she will have to flee to Germany, just as director Tamana Ayazi made it clear that she wanted to take this film project with her.

I think it was important to tell this story to the world and show what is happening in Afghanistan. This is still a shock to us, but it was important to document what we went throughas you say.

When people ask me what I wish for the film, I say that I hope the world will not forget the Afghans who remained in Afghanistan, and those who had to flee and became refugees. »

Quote from Tamana Ayazi

divided country

The documentary is also based, in parallel, on interviews with the Taliban. A controversial option that the two directors defend.

We never wanted to humanize or justify the Taliban. We just wanted to understand what was happening in the country, says Tamana Ayazi. And one cannot ignore the fact that the Taliban were there and had their own lands, and they were in a position of strength in many provinces, villages and districts.

There is the word “Taliban”. But who are they?Marcel Mittelseven questions, claiming he wanted to star in the movie Two visions of a divided country.

I’m looking for a bigger audience

After passing to QuarrelThe movie is scheduled to be released on Netflix in November. Among the executive producers, two names are likely to attract attention: Hillary and Chelsea Clinton.

The former Secretary of State and former presidential candidate for the United States and her daughter were present at the Toronto premiere, where they gave some introductory speeches, emphasizing that this story Almost unimaginable Who is this Lots of other women.

Zarifa Gharifa, who was also in Toronto for the festival, spotted documentaries on the big screen for the first time. After two and a half years, showing her and her family the film was difficult. There are so many expectations […]. Everyone cried, it was so intensesays Marcel Mitelseven.

The four mentioned people, sitting on the stage, answer the questions.

Left to right, Marcel Mitelseven, Zarifa Ghaffari, Tamana Ayazi and Tom Powers (TIFF programmer), at the “In Her Hands” premiere in Toronto.

Photo: Radio Canada / Camille Grace Roy

In any case, the co-managers don’t want to end the conversation there. It is a political topic in a foreign language. Documentary about a person unknown to 99% of the planet, notes Marcel Mitelseven. Dealing with a complex political context while trying to convey it on a journey, and on an emotional level, so that a foreign audience can identify with it, is a challenge for filmmakers.

Pandemic, Afghanistan, Ukraine… There are many things going on. There is also some disaster fatigue. I think it’s a common and understandable situation, but what is more important is finding other ways to tell these stories. »

Quote from Marcel Mittelseven

Meanwhile, one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises continues to ravage Afghanistan, and women’s rights continue to be drastically curtailed, Tamana Ayazi recalls. But Afghan women and girls have taken to the streets to protestshe adds.

They are fighting a real battle in Kabul and in other provinces. This gives me hope. We will not surrender. But we also need the world’s support for us.

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