Wednesday, February 20th, 2013


20 year old Wajma lives with her mother and brother in Kabul whilst her father is away in Southern Afghanistan working as a mine detector in the war zone.  When the family attend a cousin’s wedding Wajma encourages Mustafa a family friend to flirt with her, and afterwards they start to see each other in total secret as relationships between unmarried couples are strictly prohibited in Afghan society.

When Wajma announces to him one day that she has been accepted into Law School, 25 year old Mustafa says ‘lets celebrate and cuddle’. The trouble is he doesn’t actually stop there and when he declares his undying love for her, Wajma lets him have the full package. When this leads to a pregnancy, Mustafa denies he ever made such a statement and he claims as there was no blood at intercourse, Wajma was obviously not a virgin, and that the baby is probably not his anyway.

Refusing to marry her, Wajma has no alternative than to confess all to her mother who, sympathetic as she is, sends for her husband who almost beats the pregnant woman to death because of the dishonor she has has bought on the whole family by this deed.  He confronts Mustafa who denies any knowledge of the pregnancy at all, so he consults the local Prosecutor who advises him that it would be illegal to kill either of the young people as he hadn’t actually caught them in the act.
Its only when Wajma’s father thinks that she has done herself some harm, that he finally changes heart and helps the family find a way out of the predicament and move forward saving face and be able to stay together.
This remarkable wee film is a ruthless reminder how cruel and barbaric the customs of countries like Afghanistan still are.  Whilst contemporary society there has progressed to a situation where the Wajma’s of the world are allowed to get some higher education and even a professional career it is only with the permission of first their father, and later their husband.  Wajma’s story is evidently a composite of several real life stories and the only reason that writer/director Barmak Akram ever got it on to the silver screen at Sundance was by submitting a total different and harmless plot to the Authorities which he used as a cover.   A seemingly very dangerous risk I would have thought.

It’s Mr Akram’s second narrative and a remarkable achievement which won him Sundance’s Best Screenwriting Award no mean achievement in itself. He was greatly helped by the two young lead actors who portray the two ‘lovers’ so effectively and with two equally strong performances from the actors with the more difficult roles of Wajma’s parents. 

Asides from the unforgetable violence that is hard to stomach, the one salient overriding thought is that the title was meant to be ironic, for this is a story of lust and hate, as there is not much love at all between these two young people.


Posted by queerguru  at  23:17


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