Archive, Film Series

Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s “Kandahar”


Kandahar is a 2001 Iranian film directed by Mohsen Makhmalbaf, set in Afghanistan during the rule of the Taliban. Its original Persian title is Safar-e Ghandehar, which means “Journey to Kandahar”, and it is alternatively known as The Sun Behind the Moon. The film is based on a partly true, partly fictionalized story of a successful Afghan-Canadian, played by Nelofer Pazira, who returns to Afghanistan after receiving a letter from her sister, who was left behind when the family escaped, that she plans on committing suicide on the last solar eclipse of the millennium.

Kandahar was filmed mostly in Iran, including at the Niatak refugee camp, but also secretly in Afghanistan itself. Most people, including Nelofer Pazira, played themselves. The film premiered at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival, but did not get much attention at first. After 9/11, however, it was widely shown. Kandahar won Makhmalbaf the Federico Fellini Prize from UNESCO in 2001.

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