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Afghan Star Reviews

David Fear
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

While its style and structure conform to the well-worn template established by docs like Spellbound, its success lies in creating an accessible, fun way into serious issues.

Full Review Source: Time Out

November 17, 2011
Joe Williams
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
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Of all the films to come out of the conflict, Afghan Star is the most provocative, because its message that people are essentially the same is a dubious, double-edge sword.

Full Review Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch | Original Score: 3/4

September 17, 2009
Jonathan Curiel
San Francisco Chronicle
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Like The Kite Runner novel and movie, the documentary Afghan Star succeeds at dramatizing the lives of Afghans, but those we see on screen are real flesh-and-blood characters -- people who let their true feelings emerge.

Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle | Original Score: 4/4

August 21, 2009
Michael Upchurch
Seattle Times
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An informative documentary revealing how decades of war and years of Taliban repression have fallen to the wayside, however briefly, as Kabul's answer to American Idol seduces a violence-weary Afghanistan.

Full Review Source: Seattle Times | Original Score: 3/4

August 21, 2009
Ty Burr
Boston Globe
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One of the most hopeful and heart-rending movies I've seen this year.

Full Review Source: Boston Globe | Original Score: 4/4

July 30, 2009
Kenneth Turan
Los Angeles Times
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This eye-opening film reveals that even systems as dubious as the Idol format mean dramatically different things when transferred to radically dissimilar cultures.

Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times | Original Score: 4/5

July 24, 2009
Steven Rea
Philadelphia Inquirer
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Havana Marking's excellent, illuminating film follows four Afghan Star finalists over the frenetic final months leading to the Moment of Truth.

Full Review Source: Philadelphia Inquirer | Original Score: 3.5/4

July 23, 2009
Ann Hornaday
Washington Post
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In its vivid, suspenseful depiction of a high-stakes competition for prize money and the honor of being named Afghanistan's top singer, Afghan Star goes much deeper.

Full Review Source: Washington Post

July 17, 2009
Rene Rodriguez
Miami Herald
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Afghan Star reveals that the Afghan people strongly crave to make up for years lost to Taliban repression and catch up with the 21st century.

Full Review Source: Miami Herald | Original Score: 3/4

July 16, 2009
Ben Mankiewicz
At the Movies
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If you think American Idol is a cultural phenomenon here, imagine its impact on a country devastated by 30 years of internal strife, religious intolerance, civil war and foreign invasion.

Full Review Source: At the Movies

June 29, 2009
Ben Lyons
At the Movies
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This is about an Afghan culture that is at a real turning point.

Full Review Source: At the Movies

June 29, 2009
V.A. Musetto
New York Post
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British filmmaker Havana Marking's entertaining first feature documentary.

Full Review Source: New York Post | Original Score: 3/4

June 26, 2009
Joe Neumaier
New York Daily News
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Fascinating and, when you see Afghan versions of Simon Cowell and Co. reacting to tryouts, a reminder of how fame and the thirst for it is the same in any language.

Full Review Source: New York Daily News | Original Score: 3/5

June 26, 2009
Stephen Holden
New York Times
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The movie uses the talent show Afghan Star as a prism through which to examine the fragmented tribal culture of Afghanistan as reflected in the backgrounds of four finalists (two of them women) and the public responses to their performances.

Full Review Source: New York Times | Original Score: 4/5

June 26, 2009
Peter Rainer
Christian Science Monitor
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Full Review Source: Christian Science Monitor | Original Score: A-

June 26, 2009
David Fear
Time Out New York
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Though the who-will-win? structure both allows a too-brief peek into the quartet's backgrounds and generates tension, the answer almost seems superfluous. The phenomenon itself is the real star.

Full Review Source: Time Out New York | Original Score: 3/5

June 25, 2009
Ella Taylor
Village Voice
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If you think it's impossible to underestimate the cultural significance of American Idol, go see British filmmaker Havana Marking's documentary about its Afghani imitator.

Full Review Source: Village Voice

June 24, 2009
Chris Barsanti
Hollywood Reporter
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Although sadly rife with gut-clenching moments as those, Afghan Star is most thrilling when depicting the show's delicately balanced effort to bring Afghans together despite their fractious ethnic and clan boundaries.

June 23, 2009
Sarah Cohen
Time Out
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And while its style and structure conform to the well-worn template established by docs like 'Spellbound', its success lies in creating an accessible, fun way into serious issues.

Full Review Source: Time Out

March 27, 2009
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