Afghans participate in the first-ever International Women's Film Festival in Afghanistan, in the city of Herat on March 7, 2013. The film festival, a novelty for Afghanistan, opened today on the eve of International Women's Day, and will present thirty films from twenty countries, including Afghanistan, Iran, India, Canada, South Korea, China and Bangladesh.  AFP PHOTO / AREF KARIMI
Afghans participate in the first-ever International Women's Film Festival in Afghanistan, in the city of Herat on March 7, 2013.  — AFP Photo

HERAT: Afghanistan's first international women's film festival opened in the western city of Herat on the eve of International Women's Day. The event, which runs from March 7 to March 9, features 30 films from 20 countries including Afghanistan, Iran, India, Canada, South Korea, China, and Bangladesh.

Roya Sadat, chairwoman of the festival, said the festival was designed to “build a better connection between the Afghan women in and outside the country”and act as a forum to debate the challenges they face.

“After the rule of the Taliban, the situation improved in our country particularly for women. Afghan women have joined the cinema in the past few years, and their interests for performing in movies have increased everyday,”said actress and director Aqeela Rezayee.

“For many people, Afghan women working in movies is an unacceptable thing.  believe the fact that women are playing roles in movies will probably change the image of Afghan women in a positive way,” she added.

Sediq Barmak, the director of “Osama”, which won the Golden Globe for best foreign film in 2004, called the event an opportunity to “encourage filmmakers”and make a connection with people.

Afghanistan produced dozens of films annually in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, but its film industry was destroyed by civil war and the Taliban, who during their time in power from 1996 to the end of 2001 banned television and films.

In the absence of home-grown content, many Afghans have turned to Bollywood to get their film fix as well as Turkish serials.

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