FireDancer (2003)



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Movie Info

Haris (Baktash Zaher) is a struggling artist living in New York City. He left Afghanistan as a child, when the Russians invaded and his parents were killed. Now in his late twenties, he feels disconnected from the world, and he's tormented by nightmares, so he decides to delve into the past and uncover his roots. He meets Sunny (David Azizi), a food vendor who brings Haris into his home. Laila (Yasmine Weiss) also lives in New York, with her conservative family, who are bound to the patriarchal traditions of their homeland. Her family is trying to arrange her marriage to a local Afghan man, who happens to be a thug. Laila despairs of ever finding true love, but she's determined to be her own woman. When she meets Haris, she's initially cold to him. She tells him she doesn't date Afghan men. But as her own family life begins to disintegrate, she begins to see that Haris has entered her world for a reason. FireDancer was the feature debut of writer/director Jawed Wassel. In October of 2001, Wassel was murdered by an old college acquaintance who had become involved with the film's production. Wassel's creative team, including co-producer Vida Zaher-Khadem (the star's sister) and producer John G. Roche, completed the film and brought it to Kabul, where it was the first film screened publicly after the Taliban regime was toppled. FireDancer was also the first film ever submitted by Afghanistan for Academy Awards consideration. The film had its U.S. premiere at the 2003 Tribeca Film Festival.


Critic Reviews for FireDancer

All Critics (9) | Top Critics (4)

Crudely shot and lacking narrative cohesion, the film's sincere attempts to explore meaningful issues of cultural identity are undercut by its amateurish execution.

Jun 17, 2004

While there are enough subtle directorial touches to make you wish Wassel could make a second feature, the low-budget flick Fire Dancer is essentially a more awkward Afghan version of My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

Jun 4, 2004 | Rating: 2/4

Jawed Wassel's drama of Afghan-American assimilation is a sincere, thoughtful work, though not a very accomplished one.

Jun 3, 2004 | Rating: 2.5/5

Hard to recommend, with its haphazard tone, wobbly acting, and cipher-like lead.

Jun 1, 2004 | Full Review…
Village Voice
Top Critic

A passionate, if imperfect, glimpse at a culture still thriving in exile.

Oct 6, 2004 | Full Review…

At a very brief 80 minutes, there is sense of incompleteness -- character transitions don't make sense, with the plot taking sudden and inexplicable turns.

Jun 4, 2004 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…

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