Thanks to continued warfare in the Middle East and the Taliban, many only see Afghanistan as a third-world country with nothing to offer the rest of the world. But in the eyes of director Luis Moonier, there is beauty in the Afghan cast.
Kabul Bollywood, His latest film, is a drug addiction focused on a group of young artists trying to build a cultural center in Kabul that not only to heal the community, but to protest against the continuing violence. Based on the true story of Aftab Theater, Kabul Bollywood Trying to show the world how art can be effective as a protest.
While the true story had no happy ending, Mayooner set out to try and try out the artists he worked with to spotlight to showcase his talent. We spoke with the film director about his time in Afghanistan and why Kabul Bollywood Was such an important film.
How did you get involved? Kabul Bollywood In the first place?
I first set foot in Afghanistan in March 2002. With a human contract at hand, I planned to participate in reconstruction efforts and discover a land whose beauty I had heard from journalists and travelers. I initially came for six months but I spent ten years in Afghanistan. The end of Taliban rule brought a lot of optimism for the Afghan people.
After 25 years of invasion, civil war and persecution, the world saw relief with the return of peace in Afghanistan. The newly established democracy allowed the revival of cultural traditions and the emergence of a vibrant scene made up of artists of all kinds: musicians, painters, actors, dancers …
Among these artists, I met Aftab Theater, a group of 14 artists, who were expressing the hopes of their people with a dynamic sensibility. In 2008, we scouted Kabul together as a cultural site and to identify a site that could be used for artistic construction.
Unfortunately, the situation worsened, insecurity increased, artists became targets of attacks and the cultural center never opened. Because it proved difficult – if not impossible – to actually run a cultural center in Kabul, I decided to do it symbolically through a feature film. That’s what i came up with Kabul BollywoodTo witness the life and struggle of Afghan artists…
Aryab is familiar with cinema before you start work. Kabul BollywoodThe
I knew that this place was the center of cultural activity in Kabul in the 1970s, but I had never opened its doors. When I first entered the cinema, I realized that this was the perfect place for a film. It had miraculously survived a 30-year battle.
It has an auditorium seating area of 900, with an upstairs balcony, red-velvet seats, a golden curtain up to a huge screen. I decided to renovate the cinema during the production of the film and eventually tried to build a working cultural center after the shooting was over. But things did not go according to plan…
Many films are not scheduled in Afghanistan. Why did you feel that it is important to keep the film there?
Kabul Bollywood Kabul was shot in the heart to unveil an unknown aspect of Afghanistan. We were afraid that shooting the film in another location, such as Tajikistan, for example, would lose us some authenticity. And above all, the film was meant to be an act of resistance against the return of the Taliban, so it could not be fake, it had to be in the middle of Afghanistan.
Why did you feel that it was important to focus on artists using theater to fight in the resistance?
Theater is used as a metaphor for a place under attack, but the film’s message in general is that when culture fires, the whole society collapses. Culture is what binds people, it is history and customs in a country, it is a bridge between past and future.
We, in the Western world, are very often given to culture. We do not realize that culture is a daily battle, which needs to be fought to maintain a strong rampage against all forms of extremism. Artists stand in the front line to strengthen our rights.
A large part of your inspiration behind the film was showing that Afghan culture is not very different from the rest of the world. Do you think you achieved that while making the film?
I hope so
Young artists like resistance Kabul Bollywood Face, you had to face difficulties even while making the film. Can you talk about the difficulties you faced while making a film?
Actually … we were threatened by gunmen, our house was riddled with bullets, we almost died in the fire, a part of the team was wounded in the bombing … and finally the theater we were in Were renovating, had to keep its doors closed.
The setback was a major disappointment, but at least the film is here to testify about the situation in Afghanistan. It bears testimony to the Afghan art scene – a unique cultural identity inspired by Bollywood music and films, Middle-Eastern lifestyles, Iranian culture and Western hip-hop…
Do you continue shooting with so much danger around you?
What we experienced on the set of the film is actually facing the Afghan people on a daily basis. They have to face fear and threats every single day.
Even you were put in danger for the Kabullywood movie, do you regret for such an important project?
No, I do not regret anything. I feel very relieved that we all came out of the shoot.
While on set filming Kabul Bollywood, You have worn many caps. How many responsibilities did you perform?
It was a very intense experience, with very long hours of work and only little sleep. But there was an amazing energy developing around the team, we all had the feeling of doing something extraordinary, from which we can grow very big. It gave us a lot of stamina.
Why do you think any other international film took so long to shoot in Afghanistan?
Shooting in Afghanistan is dangerous, you are very exposed, very visible, when you are on a film set for 50 or 60 days in a row. It is difficult for actors and insurers to follow you.
Do you think Kabul Bollywood Can change how the film industry views Afghanistan?
No, I dont think so.
For those unfamiliar with Afghan culture, why should they watch Kabul BollywoodThe
Kabul Bollywood Important for me because it sheds light on a place the world knows only through the spectacles of war. It exposes an unknown aspect of the Afghan capital – away from the main frontier of a city locked in violence, sexism and radicals.
What would you call your favorite part of the film?
My favorite part is the opening of the cinema, because we struggled so much to capture it with our cameras – and because it brings joy and hope, although in reality the cinema remains closed.
What do you hope viewers take away after watching Kabul BollywoodThe
I hope they see that in some parts of the world, even a small action such as going to the theater is an act of resistance.
Do you ever see yourself returning to Aftab theater world again for a sequel?
Why not, I’m ready for it!
If possible, will you be shooting future films in Afghanistan?
I am actually preparing a documentary in Afghanistan, about archeology and the need to look at history to build the future.
Who want to see Kabul Bollywood, Where can they find the film?
The film is available in the UK on iTunes, GooglePlay, Amazon and Microsoft.