of Dishonor” – Film on Honour Killing & Traditions in Afghanistan
Edinburgh (Hollywood Reporter) – In a remote village in Afghanistan,
a well-meaning Western film crew asks a teenaged bride-to-be to act on-camera,
not realizing the peril she then faces in Nelofer Pazira’s quietly effective
drama “Act of Dishonor.”
The film combines a sensitive depiction of traditions that horrify
outsiders with photography that conveys the desperate hardscrabble nature of
life there and the astonishing beauty that arises from an unforgiving
landscape. It will attract festival interest, might thrive in art houses and
later prove an instructive piece for television and educators.
India-born Pazira grew up in Kabul and spent time in Pakistan
before immigrating to Canada, where she won an acting prize for
“Kandahar,” which centered on her fruitless attempt to find a
childhood friend in Afghanistan.
She writes, directs and stars in “Dishonor,” playing
Mejgan, an Afghan woman who grew up in Canada and returns to her homeland with
a film crew hoping to sort out her conflicted emotions. Her friendship with a
beautiful young woman named Mena (Marina Golbahari) prompts the crew’s
director, Ben (Greg Bryk), to ask her to be in the film he is making.
Reluctantly, and with the promise of a burqua that she needs for her wedding
night, the girl agrees.
As villagers begin to gossip about the dishonor they consider Mena’s
behavior visits not only on her family but also on the village, her father
(Ghafar Quoutbyar) and betrothed (Masood Serwary) begin to contemplate the
Meanwhile, many of those who fled the region when the Taliban took over
have returned only to find that others now occupy their homes and that they are
regarded as foreigners. One of them, an engineer named Ali (Ali Hazara), tries
to act as intermediary between the Canadians and the locals as the filmmakers’
presence causes escalating provocation.
The individual conversations that Mejgan has with Ali and Mena shine
a light on the ferociously held and deeply ignorant principles that keep women
in docile captivity and prevent intelligent men from doing anything to change
things. The tragedy is written in the beautiful eyes of the girl and the dazed
despair of her forlorn father, and the film does them justice, even if they
don’t find it elsewhere.