Afghan National Film Body Chief Sahraa Karimi Will Travel to Venice to Keep Spotlight on Filmmakers’ Plight

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Afghan filmmaker Sahraa Karimi, who was at the Venice Film Festival in 2019 with female-centric drama “Hava, Maryam, Ayesha,” will soon be traveling back to the fest to raise awareness about the plight of filmmakers in her country after the Taliban’s reclamation of power.

Karimi is also head of state-run company Afghan Film –– the first woman to head the org –– and managed to flee her country shortly after Kabul fell into the Taliban’s grip. In an open letter carried by international media earlier this month, she sounded the alarm about the return of Taliban rule and the potential death knell for the country’s cinema.

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In a WhatsApp message, Karimi on Saturday confirmed to Variety that she will be in Venice to continue her campaign for the protection of Afghan filmmakers and for women in general.

There was no immediate comment from the Venice Film Festival, but it’s clear that Karimi will be welcomed in Venice.

Roberto Cicutto, who is president of the Venice Biennale, the fest’s parent organization, said in an interview Saturday with Corriere della Sera newspaper that the Biennale has suggested to Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi that Europe needs to include filmmakers among the occupational categories given refugee status amid the rush to evacuate people by the Aug. 31 deadline.

“We must facilitate the status of political refugee and start thinking about how to make it easier to welcome these people,” Cicutto said.

When the Taliban took over, Afghan Film was juggling 22 films at different stages of production — three from female directors — that will be lost for the foreseeable future, including Karimi’s own second feature, which would have been Afghanistan’s first local comedy in recent memory.

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