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War and Love in Kabul
A Film by Helga Reidemeister
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Hossein and Shaima, who have known and loved each other since childhood, were separated as teenagers by war in Afghanistan. Today, reunited in Kabul, they remain deeply in love, but their relationship is socially and religiously prohibited.

Hossein, young and jobless in the late Nineties, was paid to fight with the Taliban and a war injury left his legs paralyzed. He is now handicapped, and unable to work. Shaima was sold in marriage to a man forty years her senior, by whom she had a child, but, since the dowry remained unpaid, her father brought her back home to live with her five-year-old child.

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WAR AND LOVE IN KABUL, a deliberately paced, observational documentary, reveals their dilemma through interviews with Hossein and Shaima, and members of their respective families, each representing a different ethnic group, who object to the relationship because of their loyalty to ancient tribal laws and family notions of honor and pride. Indeed, the lovers live under the threat of violent revenge by male members of both families.

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The film also discusses the prospects of marriage for Shaima's sisters within a culture in which daughters are virtually bought and sold, a tradition in which they are unable to pursue their own romantic desires but must submit to a marriage arranged by their father. WAR AND LOVE IN KABUL thus reveals the broader context of family life in a deeply traditional society, one in which the chances of personal happiness are very small.

"An incredible Romeo and Juliet drama that feels like fiction, a very intimate love story in a country that only knows war." —

"Set against the backdrop of a ruined world in which daughters are considered currency, and honor killing is a cultural norm, the film provides an intimate insight into Afghan society. ...An excellent film."—Leonardo Reviews

2009 Margaret Mead Film and Video Festival
2009 Berlin International Film Festival
2009 Cinema du Réel
2009 Norwegian Short Film Festival

86 minutes / color
Release: 2009
Copyright: 2009
Sale: $398

Subject areas:
Afghanistan, Anthropology, Family Relations, Middle East, Sociology, US & Canadian Broadcast Rights, Women's Studies

Related Links:
The Films of Helga Reidemeister

Related Titles:
Afghanistan 1979: The War That Changed the World: A behind-the-scenes history of the Soviet Union's 10-year long war in Afghanistan.

Bastards: Outcast in Morocco: One woman’s fight to have her daughter legitimized by the Moroccan judicial system.

Dishonored: The story of Mukhtar Mai, whose demands for justice after being raped, led to an historic series of legal proceedings in Pakistan, and media coverage worldwide.

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