Conflicts & War

Award-winning Afghan filmmaker: I feel ashamed to be safe

By Antonio Torres Del Cerro

Paris, Sep 6 (EFE).- Award-winning Afghan filmmaker Shahrbanoo Sadat fled Kabul with hardly any belongings save from the clothes on her back and a laptop. The French military evacuated her and her family two weeks ago following the Taliban takeover of the country, a process that left her with mixed emotions

“Honestly, I feel ashamed to be safe,” she told Efe in an interview. “I saw the crowd at the airport, I know a lot of people, a lot of artists, a lot of women, a lot of people working with the government, I know a lot of very educated people who couldn’t even go to the airport.”

The 31-year-old became one of Afghanistan’s most internationally-renowned directors following the 2016 release of her film Wolf and Sheep, which won the Art Cinema Award at the Director’s Fortnight section at Cannes, a parallel ceremony at the famous film festival that recognizes original and visionary work.

Sadat met with Efe in a dilapidated children’s play park in the shadow of Soviet-esque tower blocks on the outskirts of Paris. Sadat and nine of her family members are staying there temporarily. Her final destination, however, is Hamburg, Germany, home to the production studio she works with.

She said she is still processing what happened on 14 August 2021, when the Taliban entered Kabul.

Although accustomed to traveling around Europe and Asia, she had never considered abandoning her country altogether. Sadat said she was not threatened by the Taliban, but she knew they would make her work impossible.

“I’m confused because I was not prepared for this trip, I just had to leave my apartment. I couldn’t take anything, I just took my computer with me and that’s it, I just have these clothes.”

Denmark and the United States had offered to evacuate Sadat, but she turned them down as it meant leaving family members behind. She was finally able to head to France with nine others.

“I am still stressed and I am sad, because part of my family is still living in my apartment in Kabul. It was 18 including me, my parents, my sisters were married, my brother with his family, my actor, my cinematography friend.”

Sadat’s indignation over the situation in Afghanistan and the actions of the United States and Nato grows as the conversation goes on.

“They have left Afghanistan alone, they left the Afghan government alone, even though the Afghan government wasn’t the best government of all, it was a corrupted government, it was a weak government but still there we are fighting under democracy and Afghanistan was moving forward, even if it was slowly.”

“The international community, Nato, America, they just made a deal between them and the Taliban. They hand democracy to terrorists,” she said.

“Why did the world do this to Afghanistan? This is a crime and everyone has a hand in it.”

Sadat, whose feature The Orphanage was released in 2019, plans to continue her work in the short-term with a romantic comedy. But her dream is to be able to return to Kabul and make films from the perspective of Afghans, eschewing the cliches associated with her country.

This is the second time that her family has been forced from Afghanistan.

Sadat was born in the Iranian capital Tehran in 1990. Her parents, like many hundreds of thousands of Afghans, had migrated there from their restive homeland.

They returned to Afghanistan following the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001. And now, she is once again away from home.

“I am the product of the last 20 years,” she added. EFE


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