This is why I make films…. by Shahrbanoo Sadat4th August 2015
“They believed people who wore glasses were blind, so for seven years I couldn’t see”, young Afghan director Shahrbanoo Sadat shares her passion for making films and her new project Wolf and Sheep.
I was living in a remote village somewhere in central Afghanistan when I heard his name. Tom Little. The news spread all over the village that an American eye doctor was in town. Many people went to him because of their eye’s sicknesses. I was 14 years at that time. I wanted to visit him too because of my eyes but when my father took me the man had already left. While I didn’t see him then I met him five years later when I moved to Kabul. By chance I participated in a French documentary film workshop and I decided to make a documentary about Tom. He was tall, fluent in Dari, funny and very focused while talking. For two years I followed him, joining his trips to different parts of Afghanistan. Even though he was 60 and I was 18 we were friends. In 2010 my project was selected for Cannes Cinéfondation residency program. I was ready to shoot the film, but the Taliban stopped Dr. Tom’s car on the road some where in north of Afghanistan and killed him and his entire team in the belief that they were spreading Christianity. I still went to Paris to develop this project that no longer existed. For a long time I was depressed but I tried to not give up. So I turned to the fiction world. I changed the story. I got back to my own experiences in the village and my childhood!
I was a girl with a vision problem and I couldn’t wear any glasses until my 18th birthday when I left our small village. They had believed only blind people wear glasses. I was already an outsider because of my Iranian accent and didn’t want to make myself even more of outsider by wearing glasses. I remember the first time I looked at a tree with my glasses. It was so beautiful because it was not just a green blur. I could see its leaves one by one. I could see the apples hanging down from the tree. I wanted to make a film about people like me, people who didn’t know the world because they couldn’t see. I decided to make a film about my own experience in the village. A story about a community somewhere in Afghanistan from the perspective of a little girl who is an outsider and can’t see well. My vision is to explore how my people look at their lives, how they think and how they believe.
I don’t want to show the dark or bright sides of Afghanistan because there are so many films like that already. I want to tell a story about how I see Afghanistan, about where I am living. I want to show the routine life in a village where people are totally disconnected from towns, from the city. They are busy with their farms and their flocks. The only danger are the wolves that can be seen and heard a lot these days. People influence the life of each other by talking and judging. I will take you on a journey to understand my community and see the real Afghanistan.
I believe in change and I can see a bright future for my country. I want to stay in Afghanistan to make films about this country no matter how bad the situation gets. Almost all my friends and family members have left because they don’t believe in the future I believe. I stay in Afghanistan as Dr. Tom stayed. He cured people’s eyes. He gave them a chance to see the world better. I want to give this chance to my people and my country too. I want to share this perspective with the world.
Shahrbanoo Sadat is a young Afghan female scriptwriter, producer and director. She is based in Kabul, Afghanistan. Shahr studied documentary in “Atelier Varan Kabul” a French Documentary Workshop in 2009. Her first short fiction “Vice Versa One” was selected at Directors’ Fortnight, Cannes Film Festival in 2011 and shown at MOMA. She made ” Not At Home”, a hybrid project that was developed and produced within a year with the Copenhagen International Documentary Film Festival’s initiative DOX: LAB and was selected for the International Film Festival Rotterdam 2014.
In 2013, she opened her own production company “Wolf Pictures” in Kabul. At the moment, she is in preproduction for her first feature film “Wolf and Sheep”. Shooting is scheduled in August 2015 in Afghanistan. The film was developed with the Cannes Cinefondation Residency in 2010, Shahrbanoo was 20 years old at the time – the youngest ever selected for the residence.
First published on Shahrbanoo’s blog.