History of Histories: Afghan Films 1960-Present

When 1 Mar 2013 - 5 Apr 2013
Where Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
Fifth Avenue at 89th Street
New York 10128
United States
Enquiry 212 423 3587

Ho Tzu Nyen, The Cloud of Unknowing, 2011. Color video with sound, 28 min. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Guggenheim UBS MAP Purchase Fund. Courtesy of the artist

March 1 – April 5 2013

Press Release:

In conjunction with No Country: Regarding South and Southeast Asia, the first exhibition of the Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative, The Guggenheim Museum presents a series of programs dedicated to Afghan cinema and film production selected by independent curator Leeza Ahmady and artist Mariam Ghani.

Fridays, March 1, 15, 22, and 29, 2pm

Approximate runtime for each screening: 170 minutes

Introduction by Leeza Ahmady and Mariam Ghani on March 1 and March 29

All screenings are free with museum admission.

Friday, March 1 and March 22, 2-5pm

Selections from the Afghan Films archive, 1967-80

In a series of select newsreels, documentary and propaganda shorts, and feature film clips drawn from the archive of Afghan Films, Afghanistan’s national film institute, the changing fashions, mores and politics of the constantly reconfigured state are reflected.

Khan-e-Tarikh (The House of History), 1996 Directed by Qader Tahiri

The only documentary produced by Afghan Films during the civil war years, The House of History is an intensely personal essay film that chronicles the destruction of Kabul during the civil war, followed by a meditation 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) employs a non-traditional, circular narrative structure and no dialogue, while strong cinematography sets up a series of memorable images, each a part of a larger opium-driven vicious cycle.

Feature: Akhtar Maskara (Akhtar the Joker), 1980 Directed by Latif Ahmadi

A stinging social critique of the gap between rich and poor, old and new Kabulis at the end of the 1970s, and the story of an unusual young man who falls into the cracks in between. Sharp cinematography, a twisting plot, and occasional breaks where the unreliable narrator addresses the camera directly, give it a quality unlike anything else in Afghan cinema.

Friday, March 15 and March 29, 2-5pm

Doc shorts from Ateliers Varan Kabul, 2011

Ateliers Varan, the documentary training program initiated by direct cinema pioneer Jean Rouch, has operated workshops in Kabul since 2006. The shorts Dusty Night and The Postman observe the rituals and rhythms of the city without judgment or commentary, unless offered by the participants observed.

Fiction shorts by the Jump Cut Film Collective, 2009-10

The early shorts from Jump Cut, ANT (dir. Hashem Didari) and Devious (dir. Sayed Jalal Hussaini), display a preoccupation with the use of non-linear temporal structures, as well as their interest in the illegal and informal economies, and the petty and not so petty thefts, grifts and deceits that spring from the inequities and poverty of Kabul.

Feature: Kabuli Kid, 2009 Directed by Barmak Akram

In writer-director Barmak Akram’s debut feature, the life of cab driver Khaled (Hadji Gul) is thrown for a loop when he discovers that his last passenger left an infant boy in the back seat. Khaled embarks on a chaotic adventure from one end of war-torn Kabul to the other to find the mother. (Kabuli Kid will be screened on March 15 only!)

Feature: Mujasemaha Mekhandan (The Sculptures Are Laughing), 1976, Directed by Toryalai Shafaq

The deliriously paced story of an artist who falls in love with a spoiled rich girl, who marries a gangster who draws both his bride and her former love into his wacky schemes. A window into life in Daoud’s republic, from art school to fashion shows to house parties to weddings. (Mujasemaha Mekhandan will be screened on March 29 only!)

Friday, April 5, 6:30-8:30pm


A Discussion with the Filmmaker and Screening of Wajma (An Afghan Love Story)

A special one-time screening of Wajma (An Afghan Love Story), the most recent film written and directed by Barmak Akram (b. 1966, Kabul) that follows the clandestine relationship of gregarious waiter Mustafa and pretty student Wajma. Beginning as a playful and passionate affair, after Wajma discovers she is pregnant the consequences of the societal rules the pair has broken rapidly unfold. Awarded the World Cinema Dramatic Screenwriting prize at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. Following the screening, Leeza Ahmady and Mariam Ghani join Akram in a discussion about filmmaking in Afghanistan, as well as the historic context and themes of cinema from the region. Program concludes with a reception and exhibition viewing ofNo Country: Contemporary Art for South and Southeast Asia.

FREE with advance registration at guggenheim.org/MAP.

For more information please click here.