Zolykha's Secret (2007)
Director Horace Shansab's drama Zolykha's Secret retains a unique historical status as the first major Afghani feature to reach western audiences since Siddiq Barmak's acclaimed Osama in 2003. The picture offers a relentless yet compassionate and startlingly lyrical observation of one family's struggle to sustain itself amid Taliban-induced oppression. The film opens with a tightly-knit Afghani clan moving to a rural home in a mountainous region of Afghanistan to escape the Taliban's clutches. Tragically, the effort fails: the resonances of an oppressive society echo even in remote regions of the country. Young daughter Zolykha reels from her inability to attend school as a female, and spends her nights wracked by terrifying visions of invaders from various eras of Afghani history charging through the mountains - harbingers of the Taliban oppression that will soon scar every aspect of the family's doings. The story turns a dark corner when Yusuf, a mercurial and hostile Taliban soldier, turns up with designs on the family's firstborn daughter. The patriarch's subsequent drive to fight for his child's honor yields tragedy that ultimately forces the remaining children to embark alone on a dangerous journey to the city, under the aegis of a Taliban apostate. Shansab filmed his scenes on location in Afghanistan, and fills sequences with indigenous Afghani music and cultural elements to create one of the few acutely observed portraits of everyday life under the Taliban. ~ Nathan Southern, Rovi … More
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