Afghanistan is usually associated with suicide bombers and large-scale violence. But in an attempt to showcase the multi-faceted civilian life largely ignored by the international media, three young women, Sahar Fetrat (16), Sadaf Fetrat (20) and Nargis Azaryun (19) carried hand-held cameras to document their daily life in Kabul and made a film, Kabul Cards, that was screened at the Mumbai Film festival.
“We want to explain to the world that Kabul, Afghanistan, is a very normal place to live in,” says Nargis. “All the things written and said about Afghanistan in the international media are about explosions and the Taliban. That’s not the whole reality. There’s a big civilian life over there and we feel that should be reflected too.” She adds, “Whenever we’ve spoken to any foreigner about Afghanistan, they say, ‘Oh, the terror place. The Taliban.’ All documentaries usually made in and about Afghanistan focus only on one issue — terrorism and women. But problems exist all over the world. Why can’t they show the happier side of Afghanistan? A coin has two sides.”
Saher adds that Afghanis have a very active and normal daily life. “With this film we want to show that there are people in Afghanistan who are fighting to reduce challenges and problems,” she says. “Street harassment of women is a big issue in Kabul, but there are organisations helping us.”
Says Sadaf, “It’s not bad living there. The international media is horrible about Afghanistan. People study there, there are universities and I don’t think we’ve missed out on anything. There’s a rich culture back home.”
It wasn’t as difficult as you might believe for three young women in Kabul to make a film and then travel abroad to promote it.
“Our parents aren’t educated, but they understand us and our initiative,” says Sadaf. “They’re glad we’re doing this.” Nargis adds, “My father is a doctor and my mother is a working woman. They encouraged me to pursue this dream.”