Elham Ehsas’s short film coherently and subtly explores the impact on women in Afghanistan under the Taliban.
As short as this film might be, there is no doubting that Elham Ehsas has created a powerful and understated film that brilliantly highlights the plight of women living under Taliban rule as seen through the eyes of one such woman Laili who walks into a Chadari store in Kabul to buy her first full body veil from a Talib shopkeeper.
While it would be easy to create a film that is intense and overwhelming in the way in which it deals with its subject matter, Elham Ehsas (who fled from the Taliban when he was 10 years old) has created a vibrant and poignant film that really captures the shock for women, living life in freedom to being restrained in all aspects of their lives. However, there is also a playfulness to the piece as Laili (played beautifully by the talented Afsaneh Dehrouyeh – who doesn’t need even dialogue to bring her character so vividly to life) tries on her first full body veil and attempts to adjust to it.
Yiannis Manolopoulos’s cinematography is wonderfully warm and vibrant, effectively drawing in the audience, enhancing the sadness and poignancy that seeps through the whole film when dealing with this immensely important topic. The use of shots ensures that the audience can see Laili’s true personality struggling to adapt to the new rules and regulations that are being forced upon her. You want to get to know her more.
One of the strongest aspects to this film, is that feeling of connection between Elham Ehsas’s shopkeeper and Laili that makes it feel intimate and almost romantic in places. Between them there is a real sense of compassion, understanding and humour brought to vivid life by both performances. It is more through the body language and natural chemistry between the cast that bring the story to life in such a strong way.
The way in which it has been written leaves you wanting more and feels completely accessible in the way in which it deals with themes such as oppression and the Taliban. Such grace and sensitivity that is on display throughout makes this compelling to watch. Some might find the way in which the subject is dealt with is too soft, but sometimes dealing with a difficult subject such as this in this way can make a more lasting impact than a more aggressive style. You can’t fail but be moved by this film – it is certainly worth a watch.
By Emma Clarendon
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