Afghanistan, Qatar, USA| 2019| DCP| 72 min.| Dari with English subtitles
Director: Mariam Ghani
What We Left Unfinished looks closely at the era of state-funded filmmaking from Afghanistan’s Communist era, bringing together dozens of writers, actors, and filmmakers to discuss five unfinished, unedited projects produced between 1978 and 1991. After each regime change, leaders always saw propagandistic potential in Kabul’s rich filmgoing culture and the high quality of Afghan filmmaking. Scenes from the five never-before-seen films, beautifully restored, testify to the immense resources provided to filmmakers willing to play by certain rules. The studio politics and mishaps that accompany any film’s production here rise to the level of life-and-death conflict, as filmmakers recall coming up against the censorship of an authoritarian government, as well as unceasing threats of violence. This feature debut from artist Mariam Ghani raises potent, eternally relevant questions about art and politics, freedom of speech, and what happens when the truth becomes a bargaining chip. Presented with the support of UW Madison’s Center for South Asia. Special thanks to Sarah Beckham and Darshana Sreedhar Mini.