Professor at Sheridan College, Associate Programmer of Hot Docs and Programmer of SYFF (the Syrian Film Festival of Toronto), Toronto-based filmmaker’s Aisha Jamal’s short films have been screened in festivals worldwide. With a focus on Afghan roots, her family’s personal history, and the cultural crossover between Afghanistan and Canada, Jamal’s first feature length documentary A Kandahar Away is a work-in-progress that promises to be of great interest, especially to Canadian audiences, enlightening around the effects of a burdensome conflict on what could instead be an enriching encounter between cultures.
Following the 2009 documentary Good Morning Kandahar by Ariel Nasr, fellow Director at Threewater Productions, the production company behind A Kandahar Away, Jamal investigates further the human side of a decade-long difficult international relationship. An NFB project, Good Morning Kandahar gave voice to young Afghan-Canadians and their problematic position in the middle of two fighting countries, summed up so well in the Nasr’s statement: “My country fights a war in my fathers country. And I look on with a growing sense of confusion.” Watch the trailer here.
Currently in its funding phase, A Kandahar Away will tell the story of how a familiar name can bring together two very different communities. The filmmaker’s own family moved to Canada from Kandahar, Afghanistan — only to discover, years later, the existence of a town called Kandahar in Saskatchewan. Deciding to buy lots of land for every family member, A Kandahar Away tells not only of the quest to find “a piece of Afghanistan in the Prairies”, but also the effect of recent political relationships between the two countries on the inhabitants of Canadian Kandahar. The longest combat mission in the country’s history, the twelve-year presence of Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan has greatly influenced the public opinion, and, subsequently, has faced the farmers of the small Saskatchewan locality with unforeseen questions on and of militarization.
Aisha Jamal’s project stems from a desire to explore the intricate connection between Canada and Afghanistan, both in her personal story and on a broader, national or regional, level. A Kandahar Away is currently featured on the funding platform Cuban Hat, where in a video the Director herself pitches the documentary in full extent. Get a taste of the project here.