An Afghan Love Story

Directed by Barmak Akram

Starring Wajma Bahar and Mustafa Abdulsatar

It’s snowing in Kabul, and gregarious waiter Mustafa charms a pretty student named Wajma. The pair begin a clandestine relationship—they’re playful and passionate but ever mindful of the societal rules they are breaking. After Wajma discovers she is pregnant, her certainty that Mustafa will marry her falters, and word of their dalliance gets out. Her father must decide between his culturally held right to uphold family honor and his devotion to his daughter.


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  • ★★★★ review by Lise on Letterboxd

    March Around the World 2017 - Afghanistan

    Everything about this film seems real, almost documentary-like. Real and organic. Like most romances, our couple tease and play and flirt, only they must be extra cautious that no one sees them together or our heroine may suffer dire consequences. We see just how dire when it becomes known to her family. Watching the father go ballistic because his honour has been shattered is difficult to watch, but writer/director Barmak Akram does not let us look away. He wants it to be crystal clear what can happen in his society. He doesn't come down on one side or the other per se, letting the story speak for itself, and that may be why I loved it so much. That may be why it felt so organic and almost inevitable.

    My father saw a documentary on women in Afghanistan a few years back.

    He called me to tell me that I was damned lucky I had not been born there.

    "You wouldn't last 10 minutes".

    My heart breaks for all girls and women who suffer, and for what? for what?

  • ★★★★½ review by Jonathan White on Letterboxd

    Part of Lise and Jonnie’s March Around the World 2017

    Film 1 – March 1st - Afghanistan

    Love is universal. It knows no language or religion or country or colour, it simply happens, and it happens in the same way the world over. Honor is not so easily defined universally. Its meaning shifts from place to place, and even from person to person.

    Writer / Director / Producer / Editor Barmak Akram, in only his second feature film, explores when Love and Honor collide, and the very meaning of honor itself.

    With the exception of Big Hollywood, filmmakers are speaking to their home crowd. Akram, like his Middle Eastern filmmaking brothers, is holding a mirror up to their society. It’s not condemning, and it’s not approving, it’s simply reflecting their life and society. He does it with skill and tenderness and authentic heartbreak and indignation; his brilliant cast realize his story wonderfully and authentically.

    How do we know that love is the same the world over?


    Cinema is probably the greatest ambassador of all. It shows us that we’re more the same than we are different.

    What a wonderful way to start the 30 Country challenge.

  • ★★★★½ review by MrTaylor on Letterboxd

    Love, honor and betrayal get a new twist from director Akram's unapologetic, documentary style cautionary tale. I've never felt this degree of discomfort watching domestic violence erupt quite like this and simply can't unsee it. That's the intended effect and the truth behind the Afghan social norms applied to women is the heart of this under seen little gem. The title is a clever ploy, an aversion into much darker territory with "social death" at the forefront where the violence is just a byproduct (or like a day spent with the men publicly dog fighting). Going from romance to rage to sorrow in such a short time requires a certain tact that Akram clearly has a grip on.

  • ★★★★ review by Ken Rudolph on Letterboxd

    20-year old Wajma is the daughter of a middle-class urban family in an Afghanistan which is undergoing modernization. She's been accepted at a law school, and strikingly wears modern Western garb. It's impossible to summarize the film without plot spoilers. Let it suffice that this is an emotionally wrenching, unsparing look at the Afghani family dynamic when a daughter brings shame on the family. It isn't pretty! But it is remarkably truthful and well acted (if a tad overwrought).

  • ★★★½ review by concorde on Letterboxd

    관습이 뭐고 종교가 뭐길래

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