Afghan filmmaker Roya Sadat is readying “The Forgotten History,” her next feature after the acclaimed “A Letter to the President” (2017). Sadat is one of the few women filmmakers from Afghanistan and taught herself cinema during the Taliban regime.
“The Forgotten History,” set in pre-civil war Afghanistan, sees the friendship of two girls disrupted by their opposing ideals. Through the years, they discover that friendship is stronger than any political ideal.
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Sadat aims to go beyond the cliched Afghanistan narrative with the film. “I felt that the world needs to hear a new and unspoken story of our land with a look that reminds us, and the world, again of love and sacrifice,” Sadat tells Variety. “I felt that this story which takes place in the 1970s has a lot to say about a country where once there were guns and wars.”
“The story that has always been told about Afghan women has been the stereotypical story of the burqa and the violence and oppression,” Sadat adds. “The film breaks this narrative, ends this cliché and says that our history is not just the history of a few years of war, which is always the headline of world news.”
The film is being produced by Sadat’s women-centric collective Roya Film House and Spain’s Alba Sotorra Cinema Productions (“The End Will Be Spectacular”). It has secured half of its $1.4 million budget via minority coproduction funds at the Spanish regional film fund ICEC in Catalonia, development funds from Creative Europe’s MEDIA program, Afghanistan’s Tolo TV and the Ministry of Culture, with both production houses, Alba Sotorra and Roya Film House, also investing in the film.
The project arrives at the Hong Kong – Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF) and the Hong Kong International Film & TV Market (FilMart) in quest of the other half. “We are looking for international partners: distributors, sales agents and coproducers who can help us close the financial gap of the film,” Sotorra tells Variety.
“A Letter to the President” provided a boost to the fledgling Afghan film industry. “When we dared to make a feature film inside Afghanistan with our own company and personal facilities, it gave hope to many filmmakers in Afghanistan,” says Sadat. “After ‘A Letter to the President,’ several feature films were made by young filmmakers in Afghanistan and sent a message to international producers that this is a land of new stories, a land to be told.”
“We can make films; there are still many safe areas in Afghanistan where films can be made,” Sadat adds.
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