From frame by frame to death to camera, 3rd Afghan documentary film festival in Sweden

International Afghan Documentary Film Festival (ADFF) in Sweden presents a selection of cutting-edge documentaries about Afghanistan. These films are mirroring the typical life of Afghanistan through the anthropological eyes of Afghan and international filmmakers.

This Festival was held in three different categories, best women film, best international documentary and best short documentary about Afghanistan.

The winners of this year festival are best international film About Afghanistan, “Marziye, my friend” a film by Kirsi Mattila, best women film, “Bearing the Weight”, by Mona Haidari and best short documentary “After Silence” by Rahman Alemi.


Most of filmmakers represented the new generation of Afghanistan and their stories were mostly about women with positive and negative perspective.

For many of Afghan writers, filmmakers, audience who has immigrated to Sweden were a new chance to see films about Afghanistan and for some women and filmmakers, it were a chance to share stories from a real and forgotten war zoon country internationally off curse people were really affected by the point of view of Afghan filmmakers too.

Creating and expending this platform is a base to share stories of those lives affected by war, discrimination and injustice, very engaged stories of those who courageously resisted oppression and fought against violence with the dream that one day they may create a more human world, also about wars and all those anti-cultural extremists have unfortunately marginalized artists.

Shahmama and Salsal national association founded ADFF in 2013, as culture project in Sweden but this year Asian Culture House was the main promoter and organizer of this festival beside the other Afghan associations and embassy of Afghanistan.

ADFF supports the work of Afghans and international documentary filmmakers and to promote excellence in documentary production and this year women’s life and stories were the main focal points for its organizers and supporters, and the project is dedicated for gender equality .


From the beginning women story begin by a film called Marziya my friend, by Finish filmmaker Kirsi Mattila and then there was only two films out of women subjects from 12 films that screened by ADFF.

A short view on the history of ADFF


Post 2013 Basir Seerat head of the culture department at Shamama & Salsal an Afghan union bring several films for a night festival at ABF salen for around 200 people mostly Afghan and Iranian who’s immigrated to Sweden.

On that night audience were so happy because they had chance to see some of the great documentary films from Afghan filmmakers and the story of these films were very very deep on positive changes and challenges regarding a war zoon country like Afghanistan.

ABF was one of the supporters where this festival happened and then it was a start point for a big festival which next years continued by it’s organizers.


2014 Shahmama & Salsal national association and ABF Workers’ Educational Association in Stockholm continued it’s cooperation to make this festival happen which was second round of the Afghan documentary film festival in Sweden.

The main story behind this year’s festival was democracy and future of Afghanistan after 2014. Films for democracy, human rights, women, and an anthropologist perspective bring people to have three days festival and discussion.

It’s been fun for all of the Audience, filmmakers, artists, and women writer’s activists, and a bigger numbers of lonely children in Sweden.

Finally 2014 winners announced by the festival juries; Best Afghanistan documentary award goes to “On the string of forgetfulness” by Aboozar Amini, Best Human rights documentary award goes to “Afghanistan 2014” by Razi Mohebi, Best women film by women director award goes to “Stay Alive” by Sediqa Dawlat Rezae, Best cinema direct or Sevren Blanchet award goes to ” My teacher is shopkeeper by Jaml Aram, Best international film award goes to “Prisoner of Himalaya” by Louis Meunier.

Interesting issues was that the selection has been made out of a great range of different films from and about Afghanistan.


A group of filmmakers, writers, and civil society activist was attended to this year’s festival from Afghanistan and Europe and all of the main special guests had been gathered at the big Villa, which prepared by organizers. Filmmakers and special guests been discussing beside the festival how to handle Afghan cinema at this moment, where there is no ex budget and supporters nationally and internationally.

Hard to reach for a good conclusion because most of the filmmakers have been escaped the country for many reasons.

If we see to the list of films, there are brilliant films about Afghanistan, and most of this cutting edge films has made by basic budgets and basic equipment’s at really tricky situations.

Only international films had acceptable budgets and technical team to produce such stories in Afghanistan.

Despite the challenges we saw for holding this festival, we are proudly sharing our success marginalizing stories of women in front and behind cameras.

List of films describe how good films are selected at this year; Films of Marziye, my friend a film by Kirsi Mattila, “After Silence” by Rahman Alemi, Afghan Women Behind the Wheel, “Death to the Camera” directed by S. Qasim Hosseini, “Beyond fatigue” by Baqir Tawakoli, ‘L’ is for Light, ‘D’ is for Darkness, by Hasibullah Asmaty, Pashto Landay Seamus Murphy, Lost on the roof of the world by Frederic Lagrange, “Searching for path” by Reza Sahel, Bearing the Weight, by Mona Haidari, The art of fighting, Frame by Frame by Alexandria Bombach, Mo Scarpelli been part of this year festival.


ADFF is a project, dedicated to advancing and celebrating the art of documentary with a specific subject, which is Afghanistan. The project showcases Afghan and international documentaries to the public and delivers professional development, market and network opportunities to documentary professionals through the presentation of an annual documentary festival and complimentary activities.

The success stories from Afghanistan made this festival very unique and it’s great chance can be a chance for the filmmakers to share their untold stories too.

Its future cooperation with other festival can be also a platform to reach success, such Mumbi International Film Festival.

The festival had a wonderful ending, award ceremony with an excellent solo performance Sitaraha by Lief Persson and Monirah Hashimi.

In this powerful piece, she enacts the narratives of a series of Afghan women throughout history, including Gul Begum, a woman who has lost her family and was enslaved in 1892, Sara, who has witnessed civil war, and Halima, who has been charged with having an extra-marital relationship and is awaiting death-by-stoning.

This project was mainly funded by Shahmama & Salsal national association, Afghan Embassy in Sweden, Abf huset and Asian Kultur Huset.

Photos by Asif Talash & Roqia Rassoulli


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