These movies explore various aspects of Afghan culture, history, and daily life. Some are based on true stories, while others are fictional, but they all offer insight into the complexities of Afghan society and the resilience of its people.

Afghanistan is a country with a rich cultural history, and its film industry has produced some notable films that reflect the country’s complex social and political landscape. From the early days of Afghan cinema to the modern era, filmmakers have tackled a range of subjects, including war, social issues, and everyday life in Afghanistan.

Despite the challenges faced by the Afghan film industry, such as political instability, censorship, and lack of funding, a number of films have gained international recognition and critical acclaim. These films provide a unique perspective on the country and its people, offering a window into a world that is often misunderstood by outsiders.

In this series, we will explore some of the best Afghan films that have been made over the years, highlighting their significance and impact on Afghan cinema and society. We will examine the stories they tell, the themes they explore, and the artistic vision behind them, as we delve into the rich and fascinating world of Afghan cinema.

Best Afghanistan Movies

These films offer a range of perspectives and stories about Afghanistan and its people, highlighting the complexities of its history and culture.

1. Osama (2003)

“Osama” is a 2003 Afghan drama film directed by Siddiq Barmak. The film tells the story of a young girl named Osama who disguises herself as a boy to find work and support her family during the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

The film is notable for being the first Afghan film to be shot entirely in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban. It received critical acclaim and won several awards, including the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

“Osama” is a powerful and emotional film that sheds light on the struggles of Afghan women during the Taliban regime. It portrays the oppression and discrimination that women faced under the Taliban’s strict laws and customs. The film also highlights the strength and resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity.

Osama [DVD]
  • Marina Golbahari, Mohamad Nader Khadjeh, Zubaida Sahar (Actors)
  • Siddiq Barmak (Director) - Siddiq Barmak (Writer)
  • English (Subtitle)
  • Audience Rating: PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)

2. Wajma, An Afghan Love Story (2013)

“Wajma, An Afghan Love Story” is a 2013 Afghan drama film directed by Barmak Akram. Here’s a brief synopsis:

The film follows the story of Wajma, a young woman who falls in love with a waiter named Mustafa. However, their relationship is forbidden under Afghan cultural norms and when Wajma becomes pregnant, Mustafa is forced to make a difficult decision. The film explores the tension between tradition and modernity in Afghanistan, as well as the consequences of personal choices in a highly restrictive society.

The film received critical acclaim for its realistic portrayal of Afghan society and its sensitive treatment of complex issues such as honor, shame, and gender inequality. It was also praised for its strong performances, especially by its lead actress, Wajma Bahar. “Wajma, An Afghan Love Story” is a powerful and thought-provoking film that provides insight into the cultural and social challenges faced by Afghans in the modern era.

An Afghan Love Story
  • Wajma Bahar, Mustafa Abdulsatar, Haji Gul Aser (Actors)
  • Barmak Akram (Director)
  • English (Subtitle)

3. Hava, Maryam, Ayesha (2019)

“Hava, Maryam, Ayesha” is a 2019 drama film from Afghanistan directed by Sahraa Karimi. The film tells the story of three women from different backgrounds who live in Kabul, Afghanistan, and who are struggling to navigate the challenges of their daily lives.

Hava is a pregnant housewife who dreams of going to university but is held back by her traditional husband. Maryam is a successful television news anchor who is struggling with infertility and the pressures of her career. Ayesha is a young woman who is engaged to a man she has never met and who is struggling with doubts about her future.

   

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYoUuuqzUgs

Through the experiences of these three women, the film explores themes of gender inequality, social norms, and the challenges facing women in contemporary Afghanistan. The film has received critical acclaim for its nuanced portrayal of complex female characters and its sensitive depiction of the social and political realities of life in modern-day Afghanistan.

4. Earth And Ashes / Khakestar-o-khak (2004)

“Earth and Ashes” (Khakestar-o-khak) is a 2004 Afghan film directed by Atiq Rahimi, based on his own novel of the same name. The film tells the story of an old Afghan man named Dastaguir, who is searching for his son Murad, a coal miner, after their village is destroyed by war.

Dastaguir sets out on a journey with his young grandson to find Murad, travelling through a desolate and war-torn landscape. Along the way, they encounter other survivors of the conflict, including a wounded soldier and a group of refugees, each with their own story of loss and survival.

 

“Earth and Ashes” is a haunting and deeply moving film that portrays the devastating impact of war on ordinary people’s lives. The film was critically acclaimed and won several awards, including the Prix du Regard Original and the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival in 2004. It is considered to be one of the most important Afghan films of the early 21st century.

Earth and Ashes
  • Atiq Rahimi (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 96 Pages - 06/13/2024 (Publication Date) - Random House (Publisher)

5. Lone Survivor (2013)

“Lone Survivor” is a 2013 American war film directed by Peter Berg and based on the 2007 non-fiction book of the same name by Marcus Luttrell and Patrick Robinson. The film tells the true story of a failed United States Navy SEALs mission to capture or kill a high-ranking Taliban leader during the war in Afghanistan.

The film stars Mark Wahlberg as Marcus Luttrell, a Navy SEAL who is the sole survivor of the mission, as well as Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch, Ben Foster, and Eric Bana. It received generally positive reviews from critics, with particular praise for its intense and realistic battle scenes.

“Lone Survivor” depicts the harsh realities of modern warfare, highlighting the physical and emotional toll it takes on soldiers. It also portrays the camaraderie and brotherhood that exists between members of the military, as well as their dedication to completing their mission despite overwhelming odds.

Overall, “Lone Survivor” is a gripping and visceral portrayal of the dangers and sacrifices involved in modern warfare, and it offers a window into the experiences of those who serve their country in some of the most dangerous places in the world.

Lone Survivor
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch (Actors)
  • Peter Berg (Director) - Peter Berg (Writer) - Peter Berg (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

6. 12 Strong (2018)

“12 Strong” is a war drama film released in 2018, directed by Nicolai Fuglsig and starring Chris Hemsworth, Michael Shannon, and Michael Peña. The film is based on the true story of the first Special Forces team deployed to Afghanistan after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

The team, led by Captain Mitch Nelson (played by Chris Hemsworth), is sent to work with a local warlord to take down the Taliban and their Al-Qaeda allies.

   

The film received mixed reviews from critics, with some praising the performances and action sequences, while others criticized the simplification of complex issues and lack of character development. However, the film was praised for its depiction of the bravery and sacrifice of the soldiers involved in the mission.

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12 Strong [DVD]
  • English (Publication Language)

7. 16 Days In Afghanistan (2007)

“16 Days in Afghanistan” is a 2007 documentary film directed by British filmmaker and journalist Sally Armstrong. The film follows Armstrong as she travels across Afghanistan, speaking with Afghan women and sharing their stories with the world.

The film focuses on the experiences of Afghan women in the aftermath of the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. It highlights the challenges faced by Afghan women in a country that has been ravaged by decades of war and conflict.

It also highlights the resilience and strength of Afghan women who are fighting for their rights and a better future for their country.

“16 Days in Afghanistan” is an important documentary that sheds light on the struggles of Afghan women in a country that has been plagued by war and instability. It shows the important role that women play in building peace and stability in their communities, and the challenges they face in doing so.

The film serves as a powerful reminder of the need to support and empower women in Afghanistan and around the world.

16 Days in Afghanistan
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Mohammad A. Hajher (Director) - Mithaq Kazimi (Producer)
  • (Playback Language)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)

8. Hell, And Back Again (2011)

“Hell and Back Again” is a 2011 documentary film directed by Danfung Dennis. The film follows the journey of a US Marine named Nathan Harris, who was severely injured in combat in Afghanistan and is struggling to adjust to civilian life back home. Here’s a brief synopsis:

The film starts with Nathan Harris leading a group of Marines on a mission in Afghanistan. The documentary captures the intense and chaotic nature of the war, as well as the close bonds between the soldiers. The film then shifts to Nathan’s recovery back home, where he faces physical and emotional challenges as he tries to reintegrate into civilian life. The film also follows Nathan’s wife, Ashley, who serves as his caretaker and support system.

The documentary combines footage shot on the frontlines in Afghanistan with intimate moments of Nathan’s struggles back home. The film offers a candid and emotional look at the toll of war on soldiers and their families. “Hell and Back Again” won the Grand Jury Prize and the Cinematography Award at the Sundance Film Festival in 2011 and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

   
Hell and Back Again [Blu-ray]
  • Factory sealed DVD
  • Eric Meador, Robert Gaines, Terry Roberts (Actors)
  • Danfung Dennis (Director) - Martin Herring (Producer)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)

9. The Kite Runner (2007)

“The Kite Runner” is a 2007 drama film directed by Marc Forster and based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Khaled Hosseini. The film tells the story of Amir, a young boy from Kabul, Afghanistan, who befriends a servant’s son named Hassan.

The story follows the two boys as they grow up in Kabul during the Soviet invasion and the rise of the Taliban. After an incident in which Amir fails to protect Hassan from a violent attack, he flees with his father to the United States.

Years later, Amir is compelled to return to Afghanistan to confront his past and make amends for his actions. The film explores themes of guilt, redemption, and the consequences of one’s actions.

“The Kite Runner” received critical acclaim for its sensitive portrayal of the complex relationships between its characters and its exploration of the political and social realities of life in Afghanistan during a tumultuous period in the country’s history.

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The Kite Runner
  • Condition: New
  • Format: DVD
  • AC-3; Color; Dolby; Dubbed; DVD; Subtitled; Widescreen; NTSC
  • Khalid Abdalla, Atossa Leoni, Shaun Toub (Actors)
  • Marc Forster (Director)

10. The Breadwinner (2017)

“The Breadwinner” is a 2017 animated film directed by Nora Twomey, produced by Cartoon Saloon and executive produced by Angelina Jolie. The film is an adaptation of the novel of the same name by Deborah Ellis and tells the story of a young girl named Parvana who lives in Taliban-controlled Kabul, Afghanistan.

When her father is imprisoned, Parvana is forced to dress as a boy to support her family and find a way to free her father. Through her journey, Parvana learns about the power of storytelling and discovers the strength and resilience within herself.

“The Breadwinner” is a poignant and powerful film that explores the struggles of life in Afghanistan under Taliban rule, as well as the importance of family, community, and storytelling. The film was critically acclaimed and received numerous awards, including the Best Animated Feature at the 2018 Canadian Screen Awards and the Best Animated Independent Feature at the 2018 Annie Awards.

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The Breadwinner [DVD]
  • Saara Chaudry, Soma Chhaya, Laara Sadiq (Actors)
  • Nora Twomey (Director) - Anita Doron (Writer) - Anthony Leo (Producer)
  • Audience Rating: PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)

3 Characteristics of Afghanistan Movies

Afghanistan has a rich cinematic history, but due to the decades of war and conflict, the country’s film industry has been severely impacted. However, in recent years, there has been a resurgence in Afghan cinema, with new films being produced and gaining international recognition. Here are three characteristics of Afghan movies:

Realism: Many Afghan movies focus on the harsh realities of life in Afghanistan, including the impact of war and conflict on Afghan people. Afghan movies often address issues such as poverty, displacement, and social injustice.

Cultural Significance: Afghan movies often highlight the country’s rich cultural heritage and traditions. They portray Afghan culture, music, and arts in an authentic and respectful way.

Resilience: Afghan movies often portray the resilience and determination of Afghan people in the face of adversity. They celebrate the strength and courage of Afghan people who have survived years of war and conflict and continue to fight for a better future for their country.

3 Reasons To Watch Afghanistan Movies

Cultural Understanding: Afghanistan is a country with a rich history and culture, and watching Afghan movies can give you a glimpse into the everyday lives of Afghans. You can learn about their customs, beliefs, and traditions, as well as their struggles and triumphs.

Social Issues: Afghan movies often address important social issues that are relevant not only to Afghanistan but to the world at large. These films can provide insight into topics such as women’s rights, poverty, corruption, war, and the impact of foreign intervention.

Unique Perspective: Afghan movies offer a unique perspective that is often not represented in Western media. By watching movies made by Afghan filmmakers, you can see the world through their eyes and gain a deeper understanding of their experiences and viewpoints. This can help broaden your perspective and challenge your assumptions.

Best Afghanistan Movies – Wrap Up

Some of the best Afghan movies that have gained recognition and appreciation globally are:

“The Kite Runner” (2007) – a drama film based on the novel by Khaled Hosseini.

“Osama” (2003) – a drama film about a young girl who disguises herself as a boy to support her family under Taliban rule.

“A Man and a Burro” (1968) – a drama film about a man’s struggle to keep his family together during a drought.

“The Black Tulip” (2010) – a drama film about two brothers who try to reopen their father’s barbershop in Kabul after the fall of the Taliban.

“Wajma: An Afghan Love Story” (2013) – a drama film about a young couple’s forbidden love and the consequences that follow.

These movies showcase the rich and diverse culture of Afghanistan, while also highlighting the country’s complex political and social history.