Saba Sahar has been a policewoman for 18 years in Kabul. But she is also an actress, director and producer. As a representative of the state executive, but also a filmmaker, the central theme of her work is the everyday violence against Afghan women. In Traumfabrik Kabul Sebastian Heidinger portrays a protagonist who is surprising in many ways: who stands up for her cause with impressive matter-of-factness, even though in doing so she openly contradicts Afghan family law. Sahar’s great strength is her unshakeable passion for her shattered country: in a place where women’s rights are trampled underfoot she uses film as a weapon for hitting back. Traumfabrik Kabul takes an unusual look at a setting that is a reliable guarantee for sad news. In its encounters with Sahar, but also in entertaining clips from her work this documentary gives encouragement with its refreshingly different approach. One of her films shows a superheroine rescuing a woman from the clutches of her male adversary using martial arts techniques. Saba Sahar is no superheroine in real life – but she is a heroine who gives hope.
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Afghanistan, women and the cinema
We step over the shards of smashed windowpanes into the administrative building. No one seems to be in charge. No one here is familiar with the “Foreigners Registration Card” we were issued upon entering Afghanistan and are supposed to present here to be signed. We are sent to a new address at the other end of Kabul. We go on foot. Saba Sahar, the filmmaker, and Emal Zaki, her cameraman, accompany us through the center of Kabul. Lined up beside the wall in front of the Ministry, scribes sit at improvised tables and fill out official forms for people unable to read and write. Stamp pads are on hand for the attesting fingerprints, and old cast-iron typewriters clack away against the babble of voices and the noise of engines. I move through the crowd behind Saba and note the male glances directed at her. Surprise, fascination, uncertainty; then mockery, contempt. Saba wears a black pants suit. Her face is heavily made up. She wears a loosely fitting headscarf topped by a pair of mirrored sunglasses pushed up onto the crown of her head. Her gaze is strictly focused ahead to avoid meeting these disparaging eyes. An occasional comment or saying that I don’t understand, but whose message is clear through gesture and intonation: intimidations. A boy appears beside her and tries to keep step with her. He looks, open and friendly, into her face, smilingly addresses her, must make way for a passerby, and falls behind again. The boy speaks louder to bridge the distance. I don’t understand anything until he takes out a scrap of paper and a pen and stops Saba. The boy has recognized her. She is the fearless, incorruptible police officer from Qanoon; she is Saba Sahar, Kabul’s movie and pop icon. He wants an autograph. Another sharp male comment from the side. Two male hands grasp the boy by the shoulders and let him know he is to stop. Saba walks faster and directs her gaze in the distance again.
KABUL DREAM FACTORY
Germany / Afghanistan 2011, running time: 83 Min., Format: BluRay, Language: German, Dari, Version: OV with German subtitles
Written and Directed: Sebastian Heidinger; Camera: Alexander Gheorghiu; Editor: Alexander Fuchs; Sound: Sebastian Heidinger, Stefan Tending; Sound design: Michael Müller; Producers: Nils Bökamp, Felix Kriegsheim; Production: Boekamp & Kriegsheim GmbH in Coproduction with ZDF/Das kleine Fernsehspiel, supported by Filmstiftung NRW, BKM, Kuratorium junger deutscher Film