Afghanistan

HotDocs Unveils Full Lineup

Burning topics, boundary-pushing formats, and films by and about women take center stage at the 2016 edition of Hot Docs, North America’s premier doc-cinema festival and confab, which raised the curtain on its full 232-pic slate this morning in Toronto. … LEARN MORE


One U.S. woman’s vision is changing the lives of girls in rural Afghanistan – New York Times

One U.S. woman’s vision is changing the lives of girls in rural Afghanistan – New York Times Read The Article Here/


‘Twas the Night Before Graduation

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN – This is a poem to celebrate the seven students who make up the first graduating class of the Zabuli Education Center — the first school for girls in a small village on the outskirts of Kabul Province. Here, they’ve defied all the odds to become one of the most successful … LEARN MORE


GroundTruth Films Producer Beth Murphy and Razia’s Ray Of Hope President and Founder Razia Jan discuss Razia’s schools for women in Afghanistan.

GroundTruth Films Producer Beth Murphy and Razia’s Ray Of Hope President and Founder Razia Jan discuss Razia’s schools for women in Afghanistan.


Ominous signs en route to a unique school for girls in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan — En route to Kabul earlier this month, I met an elderly woman who was traveling from Omaha to visit her extended family in Afghanistan. When I told her I was on my way to work on a project focused on girls’ education, she shook her head at me and drew a finger across … LEARN MORE


Right now, in the small village of Deh’Subz, Afghanistan, the first private, free, rural women’s college in the nation’s history is being built

71-year-old Razia Jan, an educator who grew up in a more liberal Afghanistan before Taliban occupation. She later moved to the U.S. to attend Harvard University and then settled in … LEARN MORE


Reflections from Sahera

Sahera Nazia sends her sympathy to Boston.

I first met Sahera in 2006 while filming BEYOND BELIEF, and it was comforting to be with her again just hours after learning about the Boston attack. This image of her is not part of the original photo series “To Boston. From Kabul. With Love.” because I wanted to share in a more substantive way her moving reflections about the tragedy and the experience of being able to send a message of sympathy to America. This is what she said: We are all creatures of God. It is my feeling as a human being. My feeling for humanity. Because we also suffer a lot in Afghanistan. We see these things happening all the time. And this was my personal feeling – I became very sad when I heard the news on the TV. Also, my kids – my whole family became very sad. These people just went to see the… LEARN MORE


The Story Behind the Pictures

BostonKabulLove1

This is the story behind my photo series – To Boston. From Kabul. With Love. When I left Boston for Afghanistan nearly 6 weeks ago, it was with some trepidation – the first I’ve felt after several filming trips here. Why now? Perhaps because the Afghanistan I’m visiting this Spring is not the same as the country I traveled to in 2001/2002, 2006 and 2009. It has experienced a decade of war, and I’ve seen firsthand how the outlook has changed among so many — from one of cautious hope for a better future to one of grim acceptance that this last painful, protracted period of violence and political upheaval may still not yield freedom from oppression in this country. Just last week I woke up to frantic emails and texts from home after the worst insurgent attack in the country in over a decade. “Yes, I’m fine. Safe.” I… LEARN MORE


To Boston. From Kabul. With Love.

BostonKabulLove1

A photo series. Click Here to read the story behind the pictures. Click Here to read Reflections from Sahera.


God’s House

Beth Delivering Food Small

Friday has become a sacred day for me here in Afghanistan. Not because it’s the Muslim holy day and we take part in any religious service, but because we’ve been able to help Razia Jan as she devotes her day to serving others. Again this morning, Razia and I made 40 halwa sandwiches (cream of wheat cereal mixed with cardamom, raisins, sugar and butter nestled in yeast-free paraki flatbread) that we delivered to people on the streets of Kabul. The halwa hot wraps went from our hands into those of many walks of life: women sitting nearly motionless in the road, cradling their babies; young boys busy collecting scrap from garbage heaps – hoping to trade it in for some money; and police officers working long hours at the checkpoint closest to our house (because as Kevin points out, there’s a little politics in everything, right?). I spent my entire… LEARN MORE


The Taliban & The Ice Cream Enemy

THE topic of conversation here is Tuesday’s big Taliban attack. Nine bad guys driving Afghan Army vehicles and disguised as Afghan soldiers attacked a government compound to free 10 of their friends, all prisoners who were being transferred to a courthouse to stand trial on a range or charges, including planting roadside bombs. They were all wearing suicide bomb vests – but only two of them put the vests to use. Death toll right now is up to 53, and there’s conflicting information about whether the 10 prisoners are on the loose (in news here the Taliban says they’re free; government says they’re dead). It’s one of the worst insurgent attacks in 10 years, and the Afghans we’re working with are visibly shaken by what such a large-scale attack says about the strength of the Taliban movement. “This is exactly how it started last time,” our translator told us, referring… LEARN MORE


Progress

President Karzai addresses an audience at Georgetown University's historic Gaston Hall during a trip to Washington.

“Progress” is one in a series of poems I’ve written based on speeches. All of the words here are extracted from a speech by Afghan President Hamid Karzai at Georgetown University on January 11, 2013. Progress Forget less pleasant aspects Of our relationship A great cause: Freeing Afghanistan It went all right With the U.S. taxpayer’s money (Laughter) (Laughter) (Laughter) (Laughter) It did contribute massively To mobile phones We had walkie-talkies: Orange Progress. In Afghanistan there is a life Donkey carts, music, honking A return of the Taliban. The War on Terror Has been costly. We have lost. You’ve heard of grapes? (Laughter)