Special Report: Samira Makhmalbaf: Five in the Afternoon

By Moira Sullivan
Movie Magazine International
A daring, courageous, and talented young filmmaker with her own signature, 24 year old Samira Makhmalbaf is changing the way we see the Middle East. Her new film Five in the Afternoon, part of the
56th Cannes official competition is set in Afghanistan. It concerns a young woman who wants to become the 'President of the Republic', the first film to be made by a foreign director in Kabul since the end
of Taliban rule. It was hard to find a woman to be in her new film. In the autumn and summer of 2002 when women were liberated and could go to school and work they were still afraid of Taliban in their culture", she said. "They did not know what kind of movie it was, and they asked me if I they should dance because they assimilate the movies of India".

Makhmalbaf is a previous member of the jury of Cannes, with two features to her credit. Blackboards was made in Iran at the Afghanistan border and won the Cannes jury prize in 2000 from the competitive section ' A Certain Regard' . Apple was awarded distinctions such as jury prizes at Sao Paulo and Thessaloniki in 1998. Samira's contribution from Iran "God, Construction, and Destruction" was part of the assemblage film 11'09''01 - September 11.

Samira refuses to be a silent observer as an Iranian situated between the tragedies of Afghanistan and Iraq and demands to know her country's neighbors. She has traveled in the area, spent time on its border taking photographs since she was a child and has much to say about the plight of women and a war torn country, mediated by images that conveys little of its people.

The young filmmaker's interest in Afghanistan goes back to her father's film Cyclist (1989), made when she was eight year's old. The film has her father's stamp and a tradition he has transmitted. It is a human interest story and Samira acted in the film made at the Pakistani border of Afghanistan. Her knowledge of the area inspired her sympathy and subsequent work in cinema. A writer and filmmaker from post-revolutionary Iran, father Mohsen Makhmalbaf started Makhmalbaf Film House in 1996 taking a break in filmmaking to teaching film to selected students, including his three children: Samira, Maysam and Hana.

"I want to show the backwardness about Afghanistan and the conflicts between past and present generations with shots of men and women. Samira emphasized that"satellite pictures", including media
images of the USA rescue operation, "do not provide the true picture of the hidden war in Afghanistan. I try to represent people not politicians". She is convinced that her work should be showing the plight and suffering of these people through cinema.

For Movie Magazine this is Moira Sullivan, Stockholm SWEDEN

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Samira Makhmalbaf: Five in the Afternoon