Sunday, April 25, 2010

Afghan Star

In my insurmountable quest to watch all the foreign films submitted to the 2010 Oscars recently I took a small step and decided to watch the UK official submission, a documentary by Havana Marking that troubled me more than I was prepared for.

The documentary film tells the story of a contestants musical show very similar to American Idol -that I have to remind readers that the show format is an import from UK and not an American original idea- that happens in contemporary Afghanistan. But that's the excuse to show how Afghan society has changed since the Taliban rule and my impression is that what we see is not so impartial and has a not so hidden intention.

I'm really torn with the way the documentary was edited as somehow I got the feeling that I was seeing propaganda. I will not get into explaining why, suffice to tell that it should have been a lot better if the story was told objectively. What I really appreciate is the story of the two women contestants as an example of cultural/religious rules that totally make women less than second class citizens and human beings. Watching both being and behaving so different impressed me and the reactions to disobeying the rules were absolute appalling. But then I'm torn here too, as I know that what is 'normal' for many, is not 'normal' for others and only us that live in a society where people are allowed to have choices will find appalling not being able to choose who we are or want to be. So I'm really troubled with this film that not unintentionally tried to show how an Occidental culture contestants format brought back "life" to a country where our concept of "joy" is restricted, the terrible consequences (including death threats) for disobeying rules, and the 'silly' government actions trying to control and punish contestants and people participation.

One positive thing the film did to me, made me think about politics, religion, Occidental recent popular culture and it's not-so-good penetration in cultures with thousands of years, and many other subjects that definitively will not discuss in this blog.

So, do I recommend the film? No if you're looking forward to an entertaining escape moment. No, if you want to have an 'objective' document of reality. Yes, if you have to watch all the foreign films submitted to the 2010 Oscar, but be prepared to see and hear a lot more than a simply Pop Idol contestants story.

Watch trailer @ Movie On Companion

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