As the world watches the Taliban seize power in Afghanistan and women’s lives come under threat, Women Make Movies, a nonprofit distributor of independent films made by and about women, is making their Voices of Afghan Women film collection available to watch for free through September 12, 2021.
“As the rights and lives of women in Afghanistan are threatened, it is important for people all over the world to hear the voices of Afghan women,” said WMM Executive Director Debra Zimmerman. “The films in our collection, which have been curated over decades, tell the history of the country through the perspective of Afghan women and relate their lived experiences—their triumphs as well as their challenges. We hope people will watch these films and realize that we must support women’s human rights in Afghanistan. The Taliban’s history is one of suppression and violence and does not give one hope for their freedom.”
From the two-time Sundance Film Festival award-winning SONITA about a young rapper whose parents planned to sell as a child bride; to ENEMIES OF HAPPINESS, which won the World Cinema Jury Prize for Documentary at Sundance, about Malalai Joya, an outspoken critic of the Taliban and one of 68 women elected to the Afghan parliament in 2005; to A THOUSAND GIRLS LIKE ME, the story of a woman fighting against sexual abuse and winning in the courts; to AFGHANISTAN UNVEILED about the first-ever team of women video journalists trained in Afghanistan—WMM honors the strength and courage of Afghan women in the face of religious intolerance and political persecution.
This selection of films sheds light on the history of this region and raises the voices and lived experiences of Afghan women.
In response to this critical moment, Women Make Movies is making the following films available to watch for free through September 12, 2021. Sign up to receive access to the films here.
All films are also available for virtual programming, to book for screenings, and to purchase on DVD or via Digital Site License. Many are also available on Kanopy and links are included below.
A film by Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami | Iran, Germany, Switzerland | 2015 | 91 Minutes
A two-time Sundance Film Festival award-winner, SONITA tells the inspiring story of Sonita Alizadeh, an 18-year-old Afghan refugee in Iran who dreams of becoming a big-name rapper. But her family has a very different future planned for her: As a bride, she’s worth $9,000. An intimate portrait of creativity and womanhood.
A film by Benedetta Argentieri | Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq | 2019 | 72 Minutes
A portrait of three women in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq leading the fight for leading the fight for gender equality. Politician Selay Ghaffar, one of the most wanted people in the world by the Taliban; Rojda Felat, a commander of the Dyrian Democratic Army; and Yanar Mohammed, who works for parliamentary reform in Iraq while running shelters for abused women.
A film by Sahra Mani | France, Afghanistan | 2018 | 80 Minutes
An awe-inspiring verité documentary that tells the story of a young Afghan woman’s brave fight to seek justice and protect her children after experiencing years of abuse at the hands of her father. In 2014, she appeared on national television to publicly accuse her father, finally succeeding in bringing her case to court despite threats from male relatives and judges who labeled her a liar.
A film by Anneta Papathanassiou | Greece | 2014 | 58 Minutes
In Afghanistan, women deciding to be actors make a dangerous choice. Banned under Taliban rule (1994-2001), Afghan theater experienced a comeback in the early 2000s, with many women at the forefront. This film captures art’s transformative power and the dangers these courageous women face doing the work they love.
A film by Eva Mulvad and Anja Al-Erhayem | Denmark | 2006 | 59 Minutes
In September 2005, Afghanistan held its first parliamentary election in 35 years. Among the candidates for the 249 assembly seats was Malalai Joya, a courageous 27-year-old woman who had ignited outrage among hard-liners when she spoke out against corrupt warlords at the Grand Council of tribal elders in 2003. The film is a revolutionary portrait of this extraordinary freedom fighter and the way she won the hearts of voters, as well as a snapshot of life and politics in war-torn Afghanistan.
A film by Munizae Jahangir | Pakistan | 2003 | 54 Minutes
Search for Freedom traces the dramatic social and political history of Afghanistan from the 1920s-2003 through the stories of four remarkable women: Princess Shafiqa Saroj, sister of the beloved progressive King Amanullah (1919-1929); Mairman Parveen, the first woman to sing on Afghan radio; Moshina, a war widow and survivor of a Taliban massacre; and Sohaila, an exiled medical student who ran underground schools for the Revolutionary Association of Afghan Women during the Taliban regime.
A film by Alba Sotorra | Bosnia, Turkey, Pakistan | 2009 | 52 Minutes
Five extraordinary women talk about their occupations, aspirations and the rights and status of women in their countries. Captured by Spanish filmmaker Alba Sotorra, who hitchhiked from Barcelona to Pakistan to shoot the film, these self-portraits of hope, heroism and pride challenge conventional Western stereotypes about women in the Islamic world.
A film by Brigitte Brault & Aina Women Filming Group | Afghanistan | 2003 | 52 Minutes
Filmed by the first ever team of women video journalists trained in Afghanistan, this rare and uncompromising film explores the effects of the Taliban’s repressive rule and U.S.-sponsored bombing campaign on Afghani women. None of the 14 journalist trainees had ever traveled outside of Kabul and except for one, none had been able to study or pursue careers while the Taliban controlled their country.
A film by Rebecca Barry | Australia | 2013 | 88 Minutes
There is a group of people in the world today who are more persecuted than anyone else, but they are not political or religious activists. They are girls. Being born a girl means you are more likely to be subjected to violence, disease, poverty and disadvantage than any other group on Earth. Meet 14-year-old Kimsey from Cambodia who was forced to sell her virginity at the age of 12, Habiba, a girl from Cameroon betrothed to a man 20 years her senior, and a young Afghan girl, Aziza, who will be shot if she goes to school.