Venice Film Festival panel discussion to urge protection for Afghan artists

The panel discussion on September 4 will feature Afghan filmmakers Sahraa Karimi and Sahra Mani

Afghan filmmaker Sahraa Karimi will speak at a panel discussion at Venice Film Festival. Reuters
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The Taliban takeover in Afghanistan and the effect it will have on the country’s filmmakers and artists will be the prime focus of a discussion at September's Venice Film Festival.

The panel, scheduled for September 4, will discuss “the need to create humanitarian corridors and guarantee that [Afghan] filmmakers and other artists will be granted the status of political refugees, allowing them to leave the country in addition to concerns about their future and the need to help them get settled once they reach Europe,” organisers said.

Afghan filmmaker Sahraa Karimi will be among those featured in the panel discussion. Karimi was the first female president of Afghan Film, the country’s national film body, and recently wrote an open letter after escaping the country, urging protection for artists and women from the Taliban.

Her film Hava, Maryam, Ayesha, which follows the fate of three pregnant women in Kabul, was shown at the 2019 Venice Film Festival and was the Afghan entry for the Best International Feature Award at the 2020 Academy Awards.

The panel will also feature Sahra Mani, an Afghan documentarian who will be at the festival to screen her latest work Kabul Melody, which follows two teenage girls who face Taliban threats and family pushback as they pursue their musical ambitions.

Other film experts taking part in the discussion include Vanja Kaludjercic, artistic director of International Film Festival Rotterdam; Orwa Nyrabia, artistic director of the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam; Mike Downey, president of the European Film Academy, as well as the academy’s executive director Matthijs Wouter Knol.

Italian journalist Giuliano Battiston, who has covered Afghanistan extensively in his work, will be moderating the discussion. The panellists are all board members International Coalition for Filmmakers at Risk, which was founded in 2020 in Venice.

Updated: August 29, 2021, 10:53 AM