Projections - Movie Reviews
Starring Marina Golbahari, Arif Herati & Zubaida Sahar

Osama may be a misleading title for those interested in the elusive bin Laden. Actually, the first film made in Afghanistan since the rise and fall of the Taliban makes a case for female empowerment as director, writer, and producer Siddiq Barmak doesn't hide his anger for such an austere regime.

Barmak recruits amateur actors to help add to a primitive, raw atmosphere to an art-house film that shares some similarities with the horrors depicted in Peter Mullan's The Magdalene Sisters.

Osama begins with a mother and daughter (Marina Golbahari) escaping a protest of woman shut down swiftly by Taliban authorities. They are seen in dire need of work, malnourished in burkas, making bold requests without male blood relative companions. This is deemed a criminal act by the Taliban.

The short, if preachy effort from Barmak centers on the daughter daughter whose father and brother were killed due to warring actions. The protesting mother was terminated from employ at a local hospital, so the elemental script has her changing the daughter's name to Osama, getting her groomed to work for a poor veteran disguised as a boy.

Not much time elapses before the family's only hope of providing sustenance is taken into a religiously oriented military group for boys. Peer pressures and training subsequently put her on a track for execution through a “forgiving” mullah has her marrying an aging farmer who has many children and two wives in a common secluded existence.

Perhaps Barmak can help more films to come out of this region of the world that many know little about. The story of oppression is a common one, but the feel of the times like that just after WWII still has a cogent nature to it. The urgency and desperate, despondent tone is felt through Ebrahim Ghafuri's lensing, and Golbahari proves to be an expressive young actress who makes the viewer experience what haunts her and understand how a prepubescent girl can look as old as she feels.

The underpinnings of Osama come across with a quiet poignancy, even with a bit to be desired in the technical presentation, the portrait of women under the Taliban envelops one with their grace under pressure.


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