Kandahar review

The humanitarian tragedy currently engulfing Afghanistan has given Mohsen Makhmalbaf's polemical Kandahar a phenomenal topicality, prompting President Bush to demand a screening.

Filmed in neighbouring Iran, this semi-fictionalised drama is structured around a quest. Nafas (Nelofar Pazira), an exiled Afghan journalist, returns to her homeland in an effort to prevent her sister from committing suicide. Having crossed the border, a disguised Nafas is guided towards the sacred city of Kandahar - - first by a young boy, then by an African-American Muslim doctor, and finally by a peasant seeking a pair of artificial limbs for his wife...

Kandahar depicts a country ravaged by war, poverty and disease, where women have been stripped of the most basic civil rights by the Taliban regime. Makhmalbaf uses surrealistic imagery - - amputees racing across the desert on crutches to pick up prosthetic legs dropped by parachutes - - to convey a grotesque reality.

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