Mojadidi is an Afghan-American filmmaker whose work explores issues of immigration, women’s rights, and the histories of wars and their impact on women. Her first film short Kabul, Kabul explored her reaction to “returning” to Afghanistan for the first time since birth through the lens of gender: her experience as a woman connecting to other women, the relationships and lives of her female relatives, and the limitations she felt as an Afghan-American woman trying to work and fit in within a nation she had only imagined. The interviews also discuss the hardship of being a nation under waves of war, reminding us that Afghanistan was Russia’s Vietnam before it became the U.S.’ forgotten war. (The film was completed before the rise of the Taliban and does not address the impact of conservative fundamentalism on Afghanistan as a result.) One of the most telling pieces of this short film is the way it brings women’s lives to the foreground. Her aunt talks about going from marriage and family to widowhood and refugee camp. Her mother and grandmother talk of displacement and desire for return, which is juxtaposed to her own loss at not finding the nation she was dreaming when she was an outsider/insider in the U.S. Other women in the movie talk openly about what they see as an internal masculine culture of greed, abuse, and disregard for women.
Mojadidi’s longer film Motherland Afghanistan discusses the impact of the current war on Afghanistan and women’s health and survival. She juxtaposes internal problems with providing proper health care to women with those created by U.S. intervention, holding both sides accountable for failing to meet women’s needs.
“The Laura Bush OBGYN Ward”
She also gives us a brief glimpse into the resiliency of women, when she highlights an orphanage/school run by widowed women for refugee children (lost in the fighting, orphaned by war, escaped from human traffickers, etc.). Mojadidi’s critique and her discerning eye for women’s experiences is critical to the discussion we must have about the gender of war and imperialism/neo-imperialism and the resilience and strength of global women that is so often missing from the N. American imaginary. (You can read a longer review of the film in my post Speaking of Health Care.)