City of Herat all set to host Afghanistan’s first international women’s film festival

4 Mar 2013

City of Herat all set to host Afghanistan’s first international women’s film festival

KABUL - To mark the International Women’s Day and to raise awareness on women’s rights, Afghanistan’s ancient city of Herat will host the country’s first International Women’s Film Festival from 7 to 9 March.

The festival will be an annual event and it is being organized jointly by the Arman Shahr Foundation, a civil society organization, and the Roya Film House in cooperation with 40 other national and international organizations.

A member of the Network of Civil Society on Human Rights in Herat, Khalida Khursand, who is also a member of festival organizing committee, said the objective of the women’s film festival was “to encourage women folk in filmmaking, promote a culture of film watching and to contribute to the welfare of women in Afghanistan through art.”

Rohul Ameen Amini, a representative of Arman Shahr in Herat, said the festival was not competitive this year and no award would be given away. “We will only screen the films for the audience this year,” said Mr. Amini.

About 100 submissions were received, with 40 of them produced by Afghans, for the film festival by the 24 February 2013 deadline. Other entries are from other countries including the United Kingdom, Japan, North Korea, Pakistan, Thailand, Turkey, Australia and France.

A jury comprising national and international experts including two female filmmakers from Belgium and Colombia is currently reviewing the films to select the best out of 100 for their exhibition in the festival.

The Afghan members of the jury are Siddiq Barmak, Aziz Dildar, Rafi Behroziyan and Jawad Darwaziyan.

“We decided to select Herat City for the venue of festival for its ancient cultural features and the increased cases of violence against women in the Province during last couple of years,” said Mr. Amini.

A UNAMA report on application of the Elimination of Violence against Women (EVAW) law released in December 2012 said the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) recorded 4,010 cases of violence against women, between 21 March and 21 October 2012. “More than half of the reported incidents (of violence against women) were from two provinces – Kabul (670 incidents) and Herat (333) – consistent with previous findings,” said the report.

The main violations of women’s rights in the province are self-immolation, battery and laceration, forced and child marriages and sexual violence.

Ms. Khursand of the civil society on human rights also mentioned the possibility of continuing the screening of films beyond three days of formal schedule of the festival so that all the films submitted for the festival could get a chance of being screened and the people of Herat, where cinema doesn’t exist, would benefit from the films.

In addition to the screening of films, the festival will also see poetry, literary shows and musical concerts.

As part of the festival, a simultaneous event is being held in Kabul on 6 March. Five short films reflecting women issues and directed by Afghan filmmakers will be screened.

By UNAMA Herat