History of Histories: Afghan Films 1960-Present

Curated/programmed by artist Mariam Ghani and independent curator Leeza Ahmady, this series mixes contemporary Afghan shorts with selections drawn from the ongoing digitization project in the archive of Afghan Films, Afghanistan's national film institute, in operation from 1967 - 96.

Screenings in conjunction with No Country: Regarding South and Southeast Asia, the first exhibition of the Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative.

The featured film clips, newsreels, documentary shorts and propaganda films reflect the ever changing fashions, mores and politics of the constantly reconfigured state of Afghanistan, including footage from the end of the monarchy (the Zahir Shah period), the Daoud republic, the Afghan Communist republic, and the Soviet puppet state.


Khan-e-Tarikh (The House of History) dir. Qader Tahiri (1996)

The only documentary produced by Afghan Films during the civil war years, is an intensely personal essay film directed by longtime cameramen Qader Tahiri that incorporates footage shot by six other cameramen from 1991 - 96, and poetic narration by Sher Mohammed Khara. The first half chronicles the destruction of Kabul during the civil war, while the second half meditates on the ruin of Kabul's archaeological museum and the efforts to save fragments left behind after its destruction in 1991.

Fiction shorts by the Jump Cut Film Collective (2009 - 10)

The Jump Cut Film Collective was founded in Kabul in 2009 by a group of young, independent filmmakers, who share both production duties and formal concerns. In the Name of Opium (dir. Sayed Jalal Hussaini) lies at the more experimental end of their output, with striking black and white cinematography setting up a series of memorable images, each a small story in itself, and each a part of a larger opium-driven vicious cycle.

Doc shorts from Ateliers Varan Kabul (2009 - 12)

Ateliers Varan, the documentary training program initiated by direct cinema pioneer Jean Rouch, has operated workshops in Kabul since 2006, in cooperation with Afghan Films and Radio Television Afghanistan. Shorts produced in Varan Kabul workshops have been screened in major documentary film festivals and broadcast internationally, and generally observe the rituals and rhythms of the city without judgment or commentary, unless offered by the participants observed. The selection here, drawn from a workshop on "the streets of Kabul," will include Wahid Nazir's The Postman, which follows postman Khan Agha as he attempts to deliver mail in a city reconstructed without a universally agreed-upon system of street names or house numbers; Mohamed Ali Hazara's Dusty Night, about the street cleaners who fight a losing battle against the ever-present dust coating the city; and Checkpoint, which spends a week inside the checkpoint where a group of Kabul policemen live, work, eat, and sleep.

Special premiere of Barmak Akram's full-length feature:
Wajma (An Afghan Love Story) (2013) | Barmak Akram: The Kabuli Kid

Images of Works