Venice Film Fest to host panel for Afghan filmmakers post Taliban takeover

Panel will focus on the need to grant Afghan artists refugee status so they can flee and settle elsewhere.


Entertainment Desk August 30, 2021

The upcoming Venice Film Festival is set to host a panel to discuss the situation of filmmakers in Afghanistan after the Taliban regained control of the country. The panel will assess the impact this militant regime is having or could have on the filmmakers and artists of Afghanistan.

Afghan filmmaker Sahraa Karimi, who will be part of the panel, is the first woman president of Afghanistan's national film entity, Afghan Film. She had penned an open letter urging global media organisations to focus on the potential blow the radical group could have on the raw but vibrant Afghan artist community. Shared on August 13, her letter-cum-appeal had circulated far and wide, as the Taliban took control of major cities in Afghanistan. In it, Karimi had alleged, "If the Taliban take over, they will ban all art. I and other filmmakers could be next on their hit list.”

Now, the Venice Film Festival panel, to be held on September 4, will focus on “the need to create humanitarian corridors and guarantee that [Afghan] filmmakers and other artists will be granted the status of political refugees, allowing [them] to leave the country in addition to concerns about their future and the need to help them get settled once they reach Europe,” Variety quoted the fest as stating.

The move marks the first initiative taken by the fest’s parent organisation, the Venice Biennale, dedicated to the Afghan crisis. Karimi will be joined on the Venice panel by Afghan documentary filmmaker Sahra Mani, who will also be on the Lido to present the project Kabul Melody at the Venice market.

The panel will be moderated by Italian journalist Giuliano Battiston, who is an Afghanistan specialist. It will also comprise Rotterdam International Film Festival artistic director Vanja Kaludjercic; Orwa Nyrabia, who is the artistic director of the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam; European Film Academy (EFA) president Mike Downey; and Matthijs Wouter Knol, who is the EFA’s executive director.

They are all board members of the International Coalition for Filmmakers at Risk (ICFR), which was launched in Venice last year.

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