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Short film festival spotlights impact of war on civilians

AT-MAZAR: The terrible impact of the Afghan war on its civilians was the focus of this week’s 2018 Mazar Short Film Festival.

Supported by UNAMA, the festival showcased the work of film-makers from Balkh province. The films, of up to six minutes in length, looked at the many different ways the lives of ordinary civilians are effected by the conflict: on family life, on education and health care, with civilians getting caught up in crossfire, unexploded ordnances and improvised explosive devices shattering lives, and how children are recruited by parties to the conflict.

The winner of the Best Film award went to Shahwali Ibrahimi for his film Zindagi Dobara (New life), a harrowing story of teacher and his pupils caught up in a terror-attack.

“I wanted to tell a story of the war and how it is destroying our society, especially children,” said Ibrahimi, adding “My film is also about courage, hope and dreams of a future without war.”

The short films will be widely shown in months ahead as part of UNAMA Human Rights work with all sectors of society to get parties to the conflict to implement measures to reduce the effects of the conflict on civilians.

“The films depict the daily reality for many Afghans, a reality of pain and loss. More than 6,000 civilians have lost their lives or been injured in the conflict since January alone this year,” said UNAMA’s Human Rights Chief, Danielle Bell. “We hope that the films will help audiences hear Afghan voices calling for a ceasefire, an end to the bloodshed and the beginning of a peace process,” said Bell.

All production team’s submitting films to the festival were required to demonstrate the substantive involvement of women in the film-making. Women civilians are inordinately impacted by the conflict.

One of the actresses, Najiba Mirzage, said the festival provided a unique platform for filmmakers and the creative industry to contribute to the peace process through film.  She hopes that the festival will grow bigger in years ahead and that films will be shown widely across and beyond Afghanistan.

The top three films were announced as the winners. The Jury also named best actor, best actress, best male director, best female director, best child actor, and best child actress.  Judging was conducted by a panel of five nominated by UNAMA and composed of representatives from Afghan Film, the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission-Northern region, Arzu TV, UNAMA Human Rights and a technical expert.

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