Sahara Karimi, the Afghan filmmaker and general director of the country’s national film company Afghan Film, has called for support from the global film community to protect artists inside Afghanistan as the country falls to the Taliban.
In a statement posted on Twitter Sunday, addressing “all the film communities in the world,” Karimi warned that the Taliban would impose a strictly Islamic state on Afghanistan and could seek to punish artists.
“I write to you with a broken heart and a deep hope that you can join me in protecting my beautiful people, especially filmmakers, from the Taliban,” she wrote. “They have massacred our people, they kidnapped many children, they sold girls as child brides to their men… It’s a humanitarian crisis, and yet the world is silent… They will ban all art. I and other filmmakers could be next on their hit list,” Karimi warned.
The Taliban took effective control of Afghanistan on Sunday after capturing the country’s capital Kabul. Ashraf Ghani, president of the incumbent government, fled the country. U.S. troops have been dispatched to Kabul airport to help evacuate thousands trying to flee the new regime.
Karimi continued to post updates on the situation in Afghanistan over the weekend and shared footage of scenes from Kabul airport of people trying to escape.
Several filmmakers tweeted their support of Karimi, including Northern Irish director Mark Cousins (Women Make Film) and Indian directors Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri (The Tashkent Files), Anurag Kashyap (Gangs of Wasseypur) and Leena Manimekalai (Maadathy: An Unfairy Tale). “It brought me to tears,” wrote Manimekalai in response to Karimi’s open letter.
Karimi is the first and only woman in Afghanistan to hold a Ph.D. in cinema. Her last film as a director was Hava, Maryam, Ayesha, a drama about pregnancy and abortion in Afghanistan, which screened at Venice in 2019.
This is to all humans, for we have failed to understand history thus we are condemned to repeat it. At this grim hour, it is imperative that we remember each of these and make it a point to see through the matter and do whatever we can.