Twenty-three-year-old Iranian film director Samira Makhmalbaf captured her second Cannes Film Festival prize last week, with a sobering story about a young Afghan woman aspiring to become president. Her film, Panj e Asr, which translates into “At Five in the Afternoon,” centers around Nogreh, a teacher, mother, and wife whose husband disappeared during the US air attacks on Afghanistan. Fighting her father’s fundamentalist beliefs, Nogreh secretly dons high heels and attends classes, dreaming of greater liberty and a better life.
Makhmalbaf admitted one of her greatest challenges was finding an actor to play the unconventional Nogreh. “[The Taliban are] in the minds of people, in the culture of Afghanistan and in the culture of so many eastern countries-it’s not like an external wound that you can dress. It’s deeper. It’s like cancer. It takes time,” she told the Guardian. Makhmalbaf, who dedicated her prize to “all the women of the world,” told reporters, “I wanted to show reality, not the cliches on television saying that the US went to Afghanistan and rescued the people from the Taliban, that the US did a ‘Rambo,'” according to Agence France Presse. The prize-winning film is expected to be shown in Afghanistan and Iran, according to AFP.
Afghan women were also the focus in “Osama,” a piece co-produced by Makhmalbaf’s father (filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf) and also shown this year at Cannes.