In 2010, Cultures of Resistance traveled to war-torn Afghanistan to meet with human rights, women's rights, and social justice activists, and to uncover stories rarely told in the mainstream media. Two of the short films below highlight positive developments in the ravaged nation, while the third examines one highly ineffectual practice being carried out by NATO forces.
Photojournalists from around the world have been sent to Afghanistan to capture the human toll of the war there. However, we rarely see the work of Afghan photographers who can bring a local perspective to what is happening in their country. That is why the 3rd Eye Photojournalism Center trains young Afghanis to work with cameras, set up websites, and critically evaluate media depictions of their communities. As program graduate Zekria Gulistani says, “Most of the photographers who come to Afghanistan are only coming to go to provinces where there is always fighting.” Pointing to a picture of a young boy building a structure out of stone bricks, Gulistani continues, “Even if the there is fighting, we have people who are already interested in starting their new lives in Afghanistan. So we need photographers who show the lives of the people.” This short film takes a look at those rarely seen pictures, and it profiles the young people who will shape the future of photojournalism in Afghanistan.
When the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in 1996, Habiba Sarabi fled to Pakistan so she could continue her practice as a pharmacist and so her daughter could continue her education. During this time, Sarabi also made trips to European countries to publicize the plight of Afghan women. When the Taliban was forced from power, Sarabi returned home and in 2005 became the first woman to be appointed governor of any of the country’s 34 provinces. Since then, she has advocated for women’s rights and for greater representation of women in Afghanistan’s government, and she has worked to maintain relative peace in her province. This short film documents how Sarabi continues to fearlessly stand up against the Taliban and to speak out on behalf of other women seeking political representation.
Decades of conflict in Afghanistan have left the country’s economy in shambles. The United States’ approach to combating drugs in Afghanistan is to eradicate crops and criminalize the cultivators. This approach ignores the lack of economic alternatives that drives many farmers to plant poppy crops, and it does little to help those addicted to opium. As of 2007, the U.S. and Britain devoted $800 million per year to eradicating poppy crops, yet only 10 percent of addicts in Afghanistan receive any sort of drug treatment. This short film takes an on-the-ground look at the issue of opium production in Afghanistan. It features interviews with Afghan women who have overcome addiction but who speak to the economic realities that contribute to the persistence of the drug trade.