Afghan Star (image 1)

“60% of the Afghan population [is] under 21, and despite the backdrop of conflict, corruption and repression they are funny, articulate and ultimately inspiring.” — Havana Marking

Screened as part of NZIFF 2009

Afghan Star 2008

Directed by Havana Marking

Pop culture returns to Afghanistan after 30 years of Taliban rule. Though the old-guard elites vehemently oppose it, millions tune in weekly to Tolo TV’s jubilantly groovy Afghan Star. “Fantastic.” — Oprah Winfrey

Afghanistan / UK In Dari, English and Pashto with English subtitles
87 minutes DigiBeta

Director, Producer

Photography, Sound

Phil Stebbing

Editor

Ash Jenkins

Music

Simon Russell

With

Setara Hussainzada
,
Rafi Nabaazda
,
Hameed Sahkizada
,
Lema Sehar
,
Daoud Sediqi

Festivals

Sundance 2009

Awards

Audience Award and Directing Award (World Cinema Documentary) Sundance Film Festival 2009

Elsewhere

Pop culture has returned to Afghanistan after 30 years of Taliban rule. Though the old-guard elites vehemently oppose it, millions tune in weekly to Tolo TV's jubilantly groovy talent quest Afghan Star. Like its Western models, the show offers non-professionals a chance to compete for a cash prize and record deal. Viewers vote by SMS. Two thousand people auditioned in 2007; three of them were women. Havana Marking's film follows four top contestants as they head towards the last-man-standing finale. Ethnicity clearly influences popularity as Hameed, a classically trained singer of the persecuted Hazara group, is well aware. But gender is the explosive issue. Wearing modern fashion and Bollywood makeup, 21-year-old Setara sets off a national scandal. Adored by young girls she's denounced by the traditionalists. Can the male supremacists turn back the tide? Marking amasses enough evidence for us to dare to hope not. — BG

“A fantastic documentary about a talent competition in a country where you'd never dream such a thing is possible.” — Oprah Winfrey