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Afghan Chronicles

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Afghan Chronicles

Shah Mahmoud Hanifi reviews Afghan Chronicles, directed by Dominic Morissette (2007, 52 minutes)

This insightful and thought-provoking film was shot mainly in 2006 when the Canadian filmmaker Dominic Morissette spent time in Kabul documenting the activities of people associated with the Killid Media Group that was then composed primarily of two magazines and one radio station. One of the magazines, Mursal, specifically caters to women, and a large part of the film deals with women’s issues not only insofar as the magazine is concerned, but also in the context of Kabul’s urban culture, unique in preponderantly rural Afghanistan. The film briefly mentions a few locations outside Kabul, and these cursory references collectively emphasize the city’s problematic relationship to the remainder of the country, particularly the eastern Ghilzai tribal territories to the east and southeast of Kabul and the city of Qandahar in the south of the country. One important point educators should note when using this film in class is to not fall into the analytical trap of equating the country of Afghanistan with the city of Kabul.

The film is both a documentary and an ethnography, and while it is most suitable for university settings, it is also accessible to well-prepared junior college and high school students. It provides engaging cinematography of Kabul and an absorbing series of first-person narratives. The people at the center of the film are tracked as they go about their daily work for the Killid Media Group (KMG), but two individuals not directly connected to Killid are also interviewed. Three main figures at the KMG receive the bulk of the attention in the film. The first is Kamal Nassir, whose job is to deliver large bundles of Killid and Mursal magazines to retail vendors in and around Kabul. Through the windows of Kamal’s delivery van, viewers see the streets of Kabul, and the film also follows Kamal on foot as he delivers bundles of magazines to various stalls and shop around the city.

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