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UA Little Rock Middle Eastern Studies Program Joins ACPJ for Screening of “My Afghan Diary”

Arzu Quderi
Arzu Quderi

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock held a screening on the internationally-acclaimed documentary film, “My Afghan Diary,” on Nov. 13.

The event was co-sponsored by the Arkansas Coalition for Peace and Justice (ACPJ) and the UA Little Rock Middle Eastern Studies (MEST) program. Dr. Eric Wiebelhaus-Brahm introduced the film, and ACPJ board chair Donnal Walter led the post-film discussion.

In “My Afghan Diary,” Arzu Qaderi returns to Afghanistan for the first time since childhood to interview Afghan women about female empowerment. The documentary film seeks to understand the perspectives of Afghan women who work within the media sector.

“My documentary film seeks to understand the perspective of a marginalized audience: Afghan women who work successfully within the media sector despite many challenges and continue to follow their dreams with such strong spirit,” Qaderi said.

Qaderi traveled to Afghanistan in September 2017 to shoot her documentary film, which subsequently achieved international acclaim in Italy, India, Canada, Chile, London, Germany, and France.

‘My Afghan Diary’ has also won several international awards, including ‘Best Documentary’ by Festival del Cinema di Salerno; ‘Best Short Documentary’ by Jaipur International Film Festival; and ‘Best Short Documentary’ at Mediterranean Film Festival Cannes.

This film contains confidential and controversial interviews in which talented women speak openly about the hardships they have faced trying to balance their home life, careers, and passions. It reveals deep connections between Afghan family members, and the impact that families have on a woman’s decisions for life in Afghanistan society.

On the topic of family culture in Afghanistan, one of the attendees at the film-screening, Joshua Mayfield, a board member of ACPJ, asked about the relationships between the father and daughter in Afghan society. This question was asked particularly about one of the interviewees who was given the chance to star as an actress for a play in Afghanistan. From the interview in the film, the audience learned that only upon the father’s approval did the actress decide to go for the role.

“My technique of interviewing champions empathy, and the women I have spoken to pursue their dreams with equal passion as we do in the Western world,” Qaderi said. “Afghanistan is a war-torn country and the society that they live within places its own limitations on womanhood so I wanted to ask: how do they keep their dreams alive?”

Visit Qaderi’s Facebook page for more details and information about the film. For more information about ACPJ, visit their website at