Facing the Dragon
Year:  2018
Running Time:  80 minutes
Country:  Afghanistan/USA
Language:  English / Farsi with English subtitles
Genre:  Documentary
Venue:  Tiburon Library [1501 Tiburon Blvd.]
Cast:  Nilofar Ibrahaimi, Shakila Ebrhaimkhel
Showtime:   Thursday, July 11, 2019 @ 06:30 PM
Director:  Sedika Mojadidi

  [Screeninig @ Tiburon Film Society]

Filmed over four years, filmmaker Sedika Mojadidi, intimately follows two unconventional Afghan women, Nilofar, a member of parliament and Shakila, a television journalist. As American forces and aid leave Afghanistan, the country's fragile democracy and the recent gains for women hang in the balance, forcing Nilofar and Shakila to choose between motherhood and ambition amidst threats to their lives and families.

- Winner of the 2018 Human Rights Watch Film Festival Nestor Almendros Award for courage in filmmaking.

Director's Statement:

My vision is to tell the emotional story as honestly as possible. Behind my camera, I am always looking for moments where my presence dissolves and my subjects forget about me. I love to be invisible. I grew up a film geek in a very traditional Afghan family. I wasn’t allowed to do much outside of my home, so I became obsessed with movies. I fell into documentary filmmaking because I am endlessly curious about people and real life is always more interesting to me than fiction. The camera also gave me the courage and permission to go places I would be afraid of without it.

Growing up in Florida as a teenager, with no end to the Soviet-Afghan war in sight, I longed to live in Kabul and have my own relationship to the place. Once I began traveling to Kabul in 2003, I realized I was too American to live there permanently. But later, I thought if I could get really close to women who reminded me of the women I’d grown up with, unconventional women who had rocked the boat, then I maybe I could be close to a country and culture I’d lost as a child. Making this film for 5 years helped me create my own experiences in Afghanistan and friendships with Afghans that will anchor me to the place forever. This film is kind of a bittersweet love letter to Afghanistan.

In verite documentary, I think your foundation is your intention and keeping the integrity of the documentary process. I wanted to make a film that felt in some sense truthful. That usually takes loads of time. This story was a partnership between myself, Nilofar and Shakila, where we created the story in front of the camera together. It couldn’t have happened any other way. I always bristle when I see stories about Afghanistan that reiterate colonial clichés and narratives on who and what we are. Despite all the stories on Afghanistan, many of those cliches still exist today and many stories still feel mediated by stereotypes to me. During the making, this filming, many Afghan women in politics, education, government, and media have been killed or injured from Taliban and ISIS attacks. The unfortunate reality is that the death toll seems to continue. I hope the film creates a realtionship with Afghans as people first, who like everyone else are trying to keep their humanity in extraordinarily difficult situations. It’s still a radical notion.

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