Afghan Star (film)
Theatrical release poster by Cuban designer Giselle Monzón, 2008
|Directed by||Havana Marking|
|Produced by||Martin Herring
|Music by||Simon Russell|
|Edited by||Ash Jenkins|
|Distributed by||Zeitgeist Films|
|Box office||$101,543 (USA)|
Afghan Star follows the story of Hameed Sakhizada, Setara Hussainzada, Rafi Naabzada, and Lema Sahar, four contestants appearing in the third season of the Afghan reality show Afghan Star. The show's director and host Daoud Sediqi explains that it provides an opportunity for Afghans to enjoy music again after the Taliban's ban. The contestants become national celebrities with people campaigning for votes which are cast via SMS. The show is popular among ordinary Afghan people and fans vote for their favorite contestants even across ethnic lines.
Contestant Setara Hussainzada is the first of the four to be eliminated. During her farewell performance she dances with free body movements without her hijab, as opposed to the more constrained dancing considered socially appropriate. After Daoud Sediqi decides to air the footage, there is outrage in the conservative Muslim community and Setara receives death threats and is evicted from her apartment. She explains that she is open-minded and that she wants other Afghans to be as well. She then returns home to her family. The other female contestant Lema Sahar, a Pashtun, is eliminated in the last round leaving Naabzada and Sakhizada. While one-third of Afghanistan watches, Rafi Naabzada wins the final round, becoming the Afghan Star.
This documentary formed the central idea for the 2015 fictionalized movie, Rock the Kasbah.
Awards and nominations
- 2009 Sundance Film Festival
- World Cinema Directing Award: Documentary
- World Cinema Audience Award: Documentary
- 2009 Prix Italia for Cultural/ General Interest
The film was universally acclaimed by critics. The film currently holds a 100% "fresh" aggregate rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and is the best rated film of 2009. It was also labeled a NYT's Critic's Pick after Stephen Holden recommended it in his review for The New York Times. Holden praised the film for the way in which it explores modern Afghan culture through the "prism" of its four protagonists and their own personal struggles.
- List of films with a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, a film review aggregator website
- Vanessa Thorpe (9 October 2009). "Star set on Oscar trajectory". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 April 2010.
- "Afghan Star (2009)". Rotten Tomatoes.com. Archived from the original on 23 March 2010. Retrieved 11 April 2010.
- Stephen Holding (26 June 2009). "A Talent-Show Tonic for a War-Weary Land". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 April 2010.
- Official website
- Zeitgeist Afghan Star Site
- Sundance Site
- Afghan Star at the Internet Movie Database
- Afghan Star at Rotten Tomatoes
- IONCINEMA.com interview with Havana Marking
- Havana Marking's Top Ten All Time Films (IONCINEMA.com)
- KamWilliams.com Review of Afghan Star
- Marta Poznanski's Review of Afghan Star for Dossier Journal