The Greatest films of all time: 86. Kandahar (2001) (Iran)


Mohsen Makhmalbaf, the creator of Kandahar started his filmmaking more independently than the rest of the new wave filmmakers in Iran who rose out of the Institute for the intellectual development of children and young adults. Makhmalbaf holding free and revolutionary ideology from his teens, spending 5 years in the Shah’s jails for stabbing a policeman and released only on the wake of the Islamic revolution, soon used camera to bring the bitter neorealism of the suppressed Iranian culture for thousands of years to the screen.  

His second film “Boycott” in 1985 exposed the dictatorship regime of Shah of Iran through depicting the story of a political activist being charged with death sentence only for his communist ideology. With his third feature “The Peddler”, Makhmalbaf reached a global level of audience and proved to have mastery over the visual art of cinema, and not being only an intellectual ideologist. With his artistic and thoughtful use of camera, beautiful and colorful cinematography, masterful editing and mix of proper music scores, Makhmalbaf became a world level master of cinema, specially with “The Cyclist”. Righteously he picked the ordinary and poor people in their struggles for survival in life as the common subjects of his films, and this way he showed well to the world the suppression of his people in Iran and their neighbor Afghanistan with their culture, and cry for freedom.


Before his greatest masterpiece, Kandahar, Makhmalbaf from 1986 when he made “Boycott”, created one film almost every year, “The Peddler” in 1987, “the Cyclist” and “Marriage of the Blessed” in 1989, “the Nights of Zayande-rood” in 1990, “Time of Love” in 1991, “Once upon a time, Cinema” in 1992, “The Artist” in 1993, “Hello Cinema” in 1995, “A Moment of Innocence” and “Gabbeh” in 1996, “The Silence” in 1998, “Tales of Kish” in 1999, and “Tales of an Island” in 2000, and in between several short films. Unfortunately Makhmalbaf who fought the dictatorship of Shah with the hope of a democratic revolution, had to continue with his fight against another dictatorship that finally banned him of his enlightening filmmaking and forced him to flee his homeland like a gypsy refugee with his family, running from country to country, Afghanistan, Tajikstan, India and finally France where he could settle. Makhmalbaf is perhaps unique among all the great filmmakers in the world in producing three great filmmakers within his own small nuclear family, his two daughters Samira and Hana Makhmalbaf and his wife Marzieh Meshkini, all known to the global cinema.

Kandahar: A Journey to the Dark Ages

Kandahar or per its Persian’s title “A Journey to Kandahar” is the story of the journey of a young Afghan woman, Nafas (Nelofar Pazira) who had escaped Afghanistan years ago and now living safely in Canada as a journalist, is back to her war torn country to see her sister who has been left behind. Her sister who is now crippled by stepping on a mine has sent her a letter that she plans to commit suicide on her own behalf and the rest of women suffering in Afghanistan on the last solar eclipse of the millennium. Hence Nafas has only three days to reach her sister save her life, while the journey through a country ruled by Taliban, who treat women as a slave and material possession under cover of Burqa is almost impossible. Getting a ride from a Red cross helicopter, she lands at a refugee camp on the Iran-Afghanistan border with the plan to pass through and reach her sister in Kandahar.

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The Greatest films of all time: 86. Kandahar (2001) (Iran)