Films on Afghanistan by Cultures of Resistance, Now Screening!

Click here to see more behind-the-scenes photos and stories we have been sharing about Afghanistan.

September 10, 2021


This weekend, five of our short documentaries about Afghanistan, made during the U.S. occupation, are screening at the ManiFiesta Solidarity Day in Belgium. Here’s what the festival says about the continued relevance of these films in the wake of the Taliban’s takeover:

“After the withdrawal of the United States from Afghanistan, there is an abundance of opinions about this country. But what are the Afghans themselves saying about their future? What do Afghan women think about women’s rights in their country? Neither the United States nor the Taliban can speak for the Afghan people. This is why ManiFiesta is showing five short documentaries by Cultures of Resistance Films on the political situation in Afghanistan.”

Although filmed in 2010, these films have taken on fresh importance in providing insight into why the occupation failed and why many human rights activists in Afghanistan are now in danger.

The films will be screening in Ostend, Belgium on Sunday, September 12, starting at 11:15am. You can find more details about the event here. We have also made these films available for viewing online on our Cultures of Resistance YouTube channel.

For those who would like to arrange community screenings of their own, we have provided descriptions and links to the films below. We hope they will be useful to you, and we welcome correspondence at

In solidarity,
iara lee – founder/ director

Militarism, Mutilation, and Minerals: Understanding the Occupation of Afghanistan

In 2011, Cultures of Resistance Films released “Militarism, Mutilation, and Minerals: Understanding the Occupation of Afghanistan.” In this documentary short, director iara lee argues that the US occupation was motivated by Afghanistan’s untapped mineral resources and that it was doomed to fail from the start. The film allows women in Afghanistan to give voice to their reasons for opposing an ongoing occupation. In light of the tragedy that has unfolded with the Taliban sweeping through the country following the US withdrawal in August 2021, this film has taken on new relevance in suggesting how the occupation was deeply flawed from its inception.


This short film from 2010 profiles Afghanistan’s first co-ed skateboarding school. Founded in 2007 by Oliver Percovich, Skateistan provides girls with the same opportunities that are afforded to boys and offers a safe space in which they can develop a sense of freedom.

Hassan Samedi: Cartoons Against Corruption

To many, Hassan Samedi’s work might not appear very dangerous, but the now-fallen government of Afghanistan viewed it as a lethal threat—and the Taliban’s recent return to power is likely to further curtail freedom of expression and the ability to speak out against corruption. As a political cartoonist, Samedi criticizes the absurdities and contradictions of the state. This short film, made in 2010, explores Samedi’s bold work and hears about the consequences he has faced for exercising freedom of expression in Afghanistan—dangers that have only intensified today.

Another Failed Drug War: Poppy Eradication in Afghanistan

Decades of conflict in Afghanistan have left the country’s economy in shambles. During its two-decade occupation, the United States’ approach to combating drugs in Afghanistan was to eradicate crops and criminalize the cultivators. This approach ignored the lack of economic alternatives that drove many farmers to plant poppy crops, and it did little to help those addicted to opium. Made in 2011, this short film takes an on-the-ground look at the issue of opium production in Afghanistan, interviewing Afghan women who overcame addiction but who speak to the economic realities that contribute to the persistence of the drug trade. Their words shed light on life during the US occupation and how economic instability helped allow the Taliban to gain control of Afghanistan once again.

An Interview with Afghanistan’s First Female Governor: Dr. Habiba Sorabi

The Taliban poses an acute threat to feminist efforts to promote basic human rights for women and girls in Afghanistan. In 2005, Habiba Sarabi became the first woman to be appointed governor of any of the country’s 34 provinces. This short film documents how she fearlessly advocated for women’s rights and for greater representation of women in Afghanistan’s government, and how she worked to maintain relative peace in her province. With the Taliban’s return, such efforts on behalf of women have been put in jeopardy.

iara lee & Malalai Joya

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We are very excited that Iranian filmmaker Mohammad Ehsani’s newest documentary, “Water Will Take Us,” is now screening at festivals. Check out the trailer! The film delves into the effectsof climate change in Iran, from water shortages to catastrophicfloods. Three women narrate the story, uncovering the causes andmismanagement that led to flooding in 2019.If you're in Seia, Portugal there will be a screening of “WaterWill Take Us” at the 29th Serra da Estrela InternationalEnvironmental Film Festival, which is running from Oct 5 - 13, 2023.Find out more information about the festival more about the support of our sister organization, the L/GFoundation, ... See MoreSee Less
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