Kabuliwood is a feature film about a group of young Afghan artists, struggling to open a cultural centre in Kabul. To do so, they must overcome fear and unite their fractured community around a shared dream, learning about love, friendship and the meaning of family in the process.
Kabuliwood was inspired by the true story of Aftaab, an all-Afghan theatre troupe, who will participate in the making of this film. An international collaboration between Afghan and Western film talents, Kabuliwood will be shot in Afghanistan. The central location is Cinema Aryub, an abandoned cinema complex that was once the most luxurious in the country. The cinema will be renovated over the course of the film and handed back to the community once shooting has wrapped.
A word from Louis Meunier - director:
I first set foot in Afghanistan in March 2002 to participate in the reconstruction effort and get the chance to discover a land whose enchantments I had read about in various travelogues. I spent unforgettable moments crossing the country in all directions, I met with a fascinating people, steeped in honor and freedom, I learnt Dari - the Afghan version of Persian - and I played buzkashi, the national equestrian sport. Intended to stay for six months, I spent seven years in Afghanistan. In order to share with the world the magic of Afghanistan, I started a film production company in Kabul.
In 2008, I was asked to identify a location for the creation of a theatre in the Afghan capital. The venue was destined for Aftaab, a troupe of brilliant comedians, as well as for all Afghan artits. Unfortunately, the situation deteriorated, insecurity rose, the military law returned and the theatre project never happened. In 2012, together with a couple of friends, we decided that if we couldn’t really open a cultural venue in Kabul, we should do it symbolically, through a feature film, as an act of resistance. We wrote a story recounting the adventures of a band of artists who open a cultural centre in Kabul, and I started looking for a suitable location for the movie. I found Cinema Aryub and realized the place just needed basic renovation to be operational again. So I thought: why not do it for real and weave the fiction into the reality? I turned to cultural stakeholders in Kabul and we all agreed we should give it a try…
So here is the plan – in brief: We will shoot a film with the brilliant actors of Aftaab, to showcase the dreams and struggles of the Afghan youth.In the process, we will renovate Cinema Aryub, our main shooting location for the film. Once shooting is done, we will give the renovated cinema back to the local community and Kabul municipality, to be used as a cultural centre.
Afghanistan is at a turning point. No one knows what will become of democracy and civil rights after the departure of foreign troops and President Karzai in 2014. Kabuliwood is the story of Afghan artists struggling to keep hope alive in the face of increasing insecurity and rising conservatism.
Afghanistan is known for its Taliban, its opium and its burqas. Beneath the surface, however, lies a very different reality. Most Afghans long for peace, security and development. And, despite decades of conflict, many remain determined to confront difficulty with great humor. Kabuliwood takes aim at the stereotypes, by shedding an unexpected light on the country, immersing viewers in the world of young Afghan artists.
Aftaab is a Paris-based company of Afghan actors, founded by Ariane Mnouchkine in 2005. With an increasingly successful series of shows, Aftaab has earned a reputation for engaging and provocative theatre. Expressing the hopes and struggles of the Afghan people with intelligence and sensitivity, Aftaab serves as an outlet for a society repressed by conservative standards.
The story of Kabuliwood is also Aftaab’s story. Originating from all ethnic groups, Aftaab’s actors are both the voice of Afghanistan and the expression of a modern youth, open to the world. Since the company’s founding, these talented Afghan performers have dreamed of opening a theatre in Kabul in order to help make Afghanistan’s artistic activities sustainable.
Cinema Aryub is located in the centre of Kabul. Once the most luxurious cinema in the country, it enjoys 900 seats, with separate balconies for women and men. Inaugurated in 1973, it was damaged and finally closed during the civil war of the 1990s.
Today, the Afghan cinema industry stands in a difficult situation: it has a bad reputation because of the low quality of the films screened and it can’t compete with the numerous television channels and the cheap DVDs sold in the bazaar. However, because of its rich history, its convenient location and its extensive facilities (a large auditorium, two exhibition rooms, one restaurant and a parking area), Cinema Aryub has the potential to become once again an important venue in Kabul cultural landscape. The cinema is structurally sound and in a fairly good state of repair. However, it requires a basic renovation and a new electrical system. Once it has been repaired for our film, Cinema Aryub will make a great location for all kinds of cultural activities: film screenings, theatre performances, art exhibitions, and more.
Why do we need your support?
We have already found some little sources of funding here and there, but this is not enough! We need your support to:
- Participate in the production of the film: Film production is expensive! Your support would contribute to the video equipment, the decoration, the costumes, transportation, food and accomodation, etc.
- Renovate Cinema Aryub and transform it into a cultural centre: Your money will be used to clean the place, change the electrical system, do some painting, etc. The more support we receive, the better! We could also install a new screen, change the seats, install new video projectors, upgrade the sound system...
We will provide you with some cool rewards in exchange of your support!
You can also help us by creating a buzz and spreading the word around you!
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