“My Afghan Family” by Mikaela Pavlatova, a Czech woman in Kabul

Afghanistan is not a crossroads of civilizations, nor the seat of a civilization that is among the greatest. It is not a source of politeness, of poetry, nor of a charming nature. It is in this era that other images erase everything else. Afghanistan is the Soviet Union, America, the Mujahideen and the Taliban are wars and destructions, suffering and madness. Afghanistan are a woman’s submissive rights, her hair hidden under a sheet, her eyes gazing from the mesh spaces, her reluctant shouting voice, and her prudent men’s steps.
The photos that did not prevent a young woman of Czech origin from coming to Kabul in the early 2000s and settling there after falling in love were a daily testament to the unrest experienced by her young Afghan family, social contradictions and cultural differences faced by a European. woman who settles in the East. In this view, the Czech Petra Prochaskova wrote Frishta, a literary work inspired by her daily life there. Czech film director Mikaela Pavlatova touched on the novel with a deep human feeling and a unique look that came from within, turning it into an animated film. The animation was imposed on “My Afghan Family” (2021), as its director says in a promotional dialogue for the film, and she and her team preferred to develop graphics and a style that allows the viewer to be as close as possible to the characters. It can only be said that she completely succeeded in this.

At first glance, one might think that “My Afghan Family” is a local film that sympathizes with the efforts of Afghan women, closely follows their situation at home, repeats images and ideas, and criticizes a society that oppresses women. But the film surprises with its balanced tone, the deep look away from the repetition of the familiar, its accuracy and sensitivity. And if he denounces the violation of women’s rights, it is not putting in a confrontation of good and evil, but creating bridges between them. His human dimensions also transcend the close circle of a Western woman situation in Afghanistan to include the story of a loving couple and a quest for understanding, harmony, happiness and recognition, in the face of unexpected daily events.
The film follows the diaries of a young Czech woman (Herra), who, out of love, decides to leave everything to follow her future husband to Kabul in 2001. Related to Nazir, she gives up her freedom to ‘faced the restrictions placed on women there. and the way they treat men. But Hera finds the strength to keep going, backed by her husband’s love and her sober, understanding and respectful mother-in-law. Through its various characters, the film highlights the difference between the generation of parents and children. Nazir’s father is one of those who believe and practice their religion with tolerance, have moderate values ​​and traditions of the past, as long as he is alive, “women will be treated with respect.” As the generation of children appears more strict, nervous and violent and his reactions appear as indicators of doubt, fear and disbelief. Like the brother-in-law who is violent and intolerant in his inclinations and sometimes in arbitrary decisions against his wife and daughter (and other times he is polite and loving, hence the film’s balance to his characters rich in their contradictions ), and as the driver tells Hera after rescuing her niece from the marriage imposed by her father, “All this Discourse on Freedom makes our daughters run away and sleep with anyone.”

From the movie “My Afghan Family”

Hera, with a sincere desire on her part to learn the local rules, responds intelligently, properly, to what she sees, encounters and is told. No nervous or contemptuous reaction, it avoids offending others, or any verbal violence. Sometimes he chooses humor to respond, sometimes irony, leaving no room for those in front of him to catch it. She responds only to the driver: “Maybe you want the Taliban to come back.” And when the men make fun of her, and her husband, for driving the car saying, “Come on, woman … Hurry up,” she smiles and says OK, then leaves quickly, wiping the dust around them. Hera understood very well the society that surrounded her and knew how to treat her without submission. Sometimes she bent down to pass the storm, but got up again to adapt her concepts to the concepts of this society. She also strives to take advantage of his qualities, such as this emotional connection, the love that surrounds her husband’s family, his interest in her, and his efforts to overcome the contradictions and pressures of his society. This is what the film beautifully highlights, these two worlds facing each other easily and seriously together in a sensitive story that avoids blackmailing emotions with emotional exaggerations, rich with its characters. Hera’s character is an embodiment of an open, intelligent woman, while the man is a full embodiment of the open man, but also influenced by the contradictions of his society, and despite his extreme jealousy and sensitivity to matters of reputation and honor. , he remained loving and understanding to his wife. As for the child, whose appearance allows the development of the plot and enriches it with a new element, he is a small abandoned, disabled, eccentric person who commits extraordinary folly, but is drawn to ingenuity , his words and surprise and sometimes. startling comments on their maturity and irony. Hera, who finds herself barren, finds in the young man a new hope that helps him live and move on, and she adopts him.

“My Afghan family”

The strength of the narrative comes from the absence of “my Afghan family” from any sermon on a sensitive topic, as seen in the accuracy of observing the diary script of this Afghan family, which is full of everything that may or may not go its way. mind. But humor mixes with the tragedies of life, which eases the intensity and pain of history and the tragedy of some situations, especially in the end. With a sense of film humor, the stories of men, women, lovers, friends and family sometimes seem to apply everywhere. The effect of the animation, which added vitality to the script and was visually dazzling despite its simplicity, can not be overlooked, in its subtle lines, the delicacy of its colors, between the warm green that reflects the warmth of relationships and the natural earth that reflects the beauty of the place. Which also allowed the story to be clearer and easier to understand. It was possible to capture strong feelings and place humor in the narrative, in an elegant image that goes to the basics, and gives more impact to the event and strength, making the viewer embrace the story in sympathy with his characters, as if they be. real in their simple forms close to reality.

Director Mikaela Pavlatova, who is also an actress, has previously won several awards for her films at festivals. Some of them, like “Innovation”, were nominated for an Oscar and one of them, “Tram” (2012), participated in the two weeks of directors at the Cannes Film Festival. Here, I present a simple realistic animated film whose complex and painful themes are delicately mixed with gentle humor and seriousness. A clear film that serves the atmosphere of the story, as it did not put aesthetics in the foreground, for the viewer to forget the form and connect with the characters, she said. She treated the characters with great and true love, no matter what they were, and conveyed their small joys despite the great pain in a touching and precise film that takes into account the gradients of feelings and events and elevates several perspectives into one war-torn country.

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