Rethink Afghanistan

Rethink Afghanistan is a ground-breaking documentary by Brave New Films, that focuses on the what is really happening in Afghanistan as a result of US policy. The film was released in parts online and is also available on DVD. Afghan Women’s Mission Co-Director Sonali Kolhatkar was interviewed for this film.

“[Rethink Afghanistan] should be required viewing for everyone in the White House, the Congress, and the Pentagon.” — Arianna Huffington

Using this documentary, Brave New Films has partnered with RAWA to provide direct aid to Afghan refugees. Please watch the short film and make a donation to RAWA.


Afghan Women: A History of Struggle

Afghan womenThis timely documentary by film maker and photographer Kathleen Foster, dramatizes the tale of a group of remarkable women, how their courage and commitment to change their lives and country has passed from one generation to the next. Their disturbing and amazing stories reflect the recent history of Afghanistan during a quarter-century of cataclysm: from proxy war to civil war, from a Soviet-backed regime to the oppressive rule of the Taliban, and to U.S. military intervention and the current sway of regional warlords and general instability.

Eighty percent of the people in Afghanistan don’t feel liberated. That startling fact opens this powerful film that documents the history of Afghanistan from 1964 to the present. Fundamentalists still control the government. 90% of the women can’t read or write. The rape and abduction of first marriages is rampant. Many women attempt suicide by burning themselves with cooking oil, so unhappy are they in their lives. Most of the women say it’s good that the Taliban are gone, but it doesn’t mean that they are liberated. The Constitution of 1964 (to 1973) gave equality to women under King Mohammed Zahir Shah and Queen Homaira Shah. The government was secular and the country was religious. This was a time of tolerance, yet there was social injustice, too.

With archival footage and interviews, the film documents the country’s history through the efforts of women who participated in the revolutionary movement of the 1970s and the political turmoil that followed from civil war, to the Taliban, to Soviet and United States intervention. War lords, Taliban, Mujahidin, and the cold war contest between the U.S.S. R. and the U.S.—all wreaked destruction, havoc and turmoil. The most disturbing section relates to the CIA’s role in creating terrorist groups along the Afghan-Pakistan border, which haunts the world today. Interspersed with historical events is footage of a conference at Kandahar in which women from across Afghanistan work on drafting an Afghan Women’s Bill of Rights. As these women talk they dispel the idea that the notion that the expulsion of the Taliban government has brought them freedom. Today, 70% of Afghans live on $2.00 a day; life expectancy is 45; 1 out or 5 children die before the age of 5; maternal mortality is 1600 per 100,000 (the second highest rate in the world). Since the U.S. invasion, Afghanistan exports 87% of the world’s opium; the majority of the members of their Parliament are former war lords or Mujahidin; and, the Taliban is returning. The U.S. has two permanent bases and 30 smaller ones throughout the country.

To find out more about this film and purchase a DVD copy, click here.


Enemies of Happiness

enemies of happiness

Can an Afghan woman, armed with only a strong voice and a fierce loyalty to her homeland, overcome entrenched views and death threats to help bring democracy to Afghanistan? Enemies of Happiness is an award-winning documentary by Danish film maker Eva Mulvad about Malalai Joya, the young social worker-turned-Parliamentarian.

“Enthralling…Ms. Joya is a truly remarkable subject.” Read full review — Mike Hale, The New York Times

“A revelatory portrait of this extraordinary freedom fighter…” — Caroline Libresco, Sundance Film Festival

“A political documentary with a difference…” — Leslie Felperin, Variety

“A character so compelling you don’t want the camera to turn away.” — Brian Darr, GreenCine Daily

“Carries the magic uplift of classic Hollywood and the considerable bonus of authenticity.” — Rob Nelson, Village Voice

Watch excerpts of Enemies of Happiness:

Find out more about Enemies of Happiness here.


View From a Grain of Sand

View from a grain of sandCombining verite footage, interviews and archival material, Los Angeles based film maker, Meena Nanji has fashioned a harrowing, thought-provoking, yet intimate portrait of the plight of Afghan women in the last 30 years-from the rule of King Mohammed Zahir Shah to the current Hamid Karzai government to the activist work of RAWA, the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan. Over a period of five years, she spent months in a refugee camp in Pakistan, where she documented the efforts of three women to rebuild their lives and help others in the process: Shapire, a teacher; Roeena, a physician; and Wajeeha, a social activist.

Visit the film’s website here:

Film Reviews

View From a Grain of SandDisputing rosy media accounts of an improved situation for women, docu profiles three females who are barely coping with state of women’s rights in their homeland. PBS-style filmmaking and storytelling makes this a sure item for pub tube airings and widespread international broadcasts.” — Variety

searing, wide-reaching… an especially timely addition to the collective history of the plight of women under repression.” — Los Angeles Times

View From a Grain of SandVia interviews, narration, and vérité and archival footage, Nanji compellingly argues that the loss of women’s rights in Afghanistan is not a simple story that revolves around the Taliban. It is a much larger-and continuing-story of a nation that has suffered through near-constant war and mass displacement over several decades.” — Make/shift Magazine

View From a Grain of Sandgripping… Nanji narrates this history with clarity and passion … an insightful, often heart-wrenching account of trauma, war and rights abuses…” — LA Weekly

There are VERY few films that approach the issue of Afghanistan, Afghan women’s rights, and US policy with a decent level of sensitivity, political maturity, and sophistication. Meena Nanji’s film is one of those very rare films that tackles all the important issues with grace, and conviction…” — Sonali Kolhatkar, Co-Director of Afghan Women’s Mission

a work of love and passion for a Afghanistan and the Afghan people…” — Adam Shapiro, former country director, Global Rights, Afghanistan.

…a fascinating portrait of resilience…” —


Sadaa E Zan (Voices of Women)

sadaa e zanWinner of 2003 Social Justice Documentary Award at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival

Filmed in March 2002, Sadaa E Zan collects the voices of several Afghan women living in Kabul, Afghanistan and Northern Pakistan. In a land where 50% of women are widows and nearly everyone has lost a family member, these brave women, of all ages, recount their struggles and victories from living under 23 years of war. From the Soviet invasion to the Civil War to the extremist Taliban, be it fighting, poverty, rape or seclusion, women were always the first victims. How did they survive?

Several reveal their stories of rebellion, be it housing an illegal home school for girls, hidden work training programs, an underground beauty parlor or a refugee medical clinic. Most of the women, despite their hardships, did not lose their morale and spirit. However, family loss and suffering has taken a deep toll on society as a whole and women are learning that psychological damage is now their new enemy.

With the Taliban now gone, Afghanistan finally finds itself with the possibility of peace. But will it last? This, they believe, is in the hands of the international community. Finally, these women have a way to voice their concerns. Listen as they speak directly to you about their hopes, beliefs and concerns for not only the future of the Afghan woman but for the country itself.

Despite all the media I’ve seen on the plight of women in Afghanistan, here, for the first time, I was able to listen to the women themselves… to hear their words, their stories, see their expression in their eyes. With this video, the Afghan women’s voices can finally be heard.” — Renee Bergan, producer and director

Find out more about the film here.


Rise: Revolutionary Women Reenvisioning Afghanistan

RiseMade in partnership with RAWA, this short documentary was one of the few early Western films about the struggles of Afghan women.

In the weeks following the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the USA and Britain began launching air strikes against Afghanistan, after the Taliban refused to disclose the whereabouts of Osama Bin Laden and members of the Al-Qaeda network. In November 2001, the United Front/Northern Alliance forces together with U.S. forces, seized Mazar-I- Sharif and just days later marched into Kabul.

Only two women were selected as part of the 30-member interim government, composed mainly of Northern Alliance members; notably, the public health minister, Suhaila Seddiqi, and the minister of women’s affairs, Sima Samar. According to the framework agreement, the interim bodies were supposed to ensure the participation of women as well as equitable representation of all ethnic and religious communities.

Watch “Rise” and read more about the status of women in Afghanistan as the country attempts to rebuild here.