Movie of the Week: Afghanistan: The Lost Truth

Filmed shortly after the fall of the Taliban, Iranian actress and documentary filmmaker Yassamin Maleknasr crosses the border and does a round trip through the major areas of war torn Afghanistan, documenting the voices of a scarred and battered people. Maleknasr conducts interviews in what I assume to be Farsi, opening up a set of doors likely not available to western journalists. What results is an honest portrait of a powerful and prideful people. The majority of the film is constructed from a feminist perspective, emphasizing the hopes and dreams of young women and old from all over Afghanistan.

Maleknasr presents pictures of multitudes of women, long denied educational opportunities under the Taliban, expressing their greatest wishes to become doctors, lawyers, pilots and journalists. From this film, one can conclude that the hope for the future of Afghanistan, like many developing and war torn countries, lies in it’s women, arguably their greatest resource. Maleknasr does not, however, present only women. She also interviews the head of Afghan TV, the chief of the oldest newspaper in Kandahar (which still presses on handset letterpress), poets, and doctors who relate the travesty of Taliban health care. By far the most powerful scene to me is that of Latif Ahmadi, the head of Afghan film, who tears up when describing how the Taliban burned the entire film library, including a prized print of Tarkovsky’s “Solaris.” Honestly, until I saw this documentary, I wasn’t even aware that Afghanistan has a deep film history, and a vibrant group of present-day filmmakers. There’s even a Afghan monthly film magazine.

This is a fantastic work, that, unfortunately appears to have gotten little press.It is beautifully shot, with panoramic views of the Afghan countryside, interspersed with Afghan musicians from every end of the country. While many of her subjects willingly relate horror stories of the Taliban, Maleknasr conspicuously leaves out any signs of active conflict (the US is non-existent), aside from crumbling buildings and what once was Kabul’s cultural center. Maleknasr paints a human portrait, instead focusing on the incredible cultural riches Afghanistan still has; a wealth of brilliant individuals even the Taliban couldn’t suppress.

The film is widely available online and on YouTube. If you have the time, see it.

About Pete Larson

Researcher at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research. Lecturer in the University of Michigan School of Public Health and at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. I do epidemiology, public health, GIS, health disparities and environmental justice. I also do music and weird stuff.

7 responses to “Movie of the Week: Afghanistan: The Lost Truth”

  1. Yassamin Maleknasr says :

    Just wanted to thank you for chosing the film& your comments
    After so many years. Sadly my distributers did not do what they should
    For the film. And Western midia did the same.
    A dark picture would was prefered not a gray one!
    But film has been to many universities & am open to more
    It made me feel good reading yout rewiew.

  2. Pete Larson says :


    My pleasure. I’m glad that you liked my post.

    I hope that you are still making films?

  3. Pete Larson says :

    This was so long ago at this point, that I really had to think for a while. YES, this was an excellent film! The University of Michigan has a copy in their library.

    Are you still making films? I certainly hope so.

  4. yassamin maleknasr says :

    Hi I am Yassamin and I am in LA! just saw this. are you still in Japan? Is there a way we can communicate? I just finished my film Women of the Silk Road and love to talk to you about it..thanks

  5. gagner plus says :

    This web site truly has all the information and facts I needed about this
    subject and didn’t know who to ask.

  6. Yassamin Maleknasr says :

    Hi Pete, I am now in NY and yes I have made many films since then. My site is and I am now in LA. my latest film is Women of the Silk Road. 4 women 4 countries. You will find stuff on my site. Where are you? I do not usually get the time to check the site. Are you still in Japan? I would love to see the Afghanistan and this new one there. This will be important now more than ever. My cell in US is 424-270-4295

  7. Yassamin Maleknasr says :

    oh I meant I would love to show Afghanistan in Japan- or later my new film

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