Aboozar Amini is behind filming, directing and scripting Kabul, City in the Wind . The film is a startling portrait of the lives of low-key people, living in a country whose name reminds us of war and misery. It is a poetic work, in which the protagonists are allowed to keep the word themselves. Amini's intention with the film, which is made with the support of Busan International Film Festival #, is to show that life must be lived anyway, as well as demystifying the rough, beautiful, proud and troubled country for an international audience.
Kabul, City in the Wind lives up to its name, with the dry, dusty wind in it Afghanistan as an ever-present player as the children entertain themselves with beating stones against old and rusty tanks left behind by Soviet Union forces (the tanks are still littering the capital's streets) and the poor bus driver Abbas is struggling to repair his unsteady bus.
Amini's handheld camera follows the sensational outings of the three sons of a cop, as well as the more troubled existence of Abbas. As bus drivers and ticket drivers talk in between during the lunch break, the conversation revolves around the latest suicide bombing and how many were killed. But the "war on terror" is not in focus, it is hardly mentioned in the film. Only once does it force itself in, hearing the sound of a bombshell in the distance.
Shakespearean high thinking
Through grainy close-ups of its main characters – the images on the canvas are as intense as Rembrandt's brushstrokes – Amini lures their innermost secrets. And in Abbas bus driver, the director finds his perfect philosopher: handsome and uninhibited – a dusty and weathered version of Imran Khan, the cricket player who became Pakistan's prime minister. Abbas is illiterate, but has an almost lyrical understanding of human existence. If you gather together Abbas' heartbeat, you are left with a kind of Shakespearean high thinking: "During my life I have barely had ten days of peace"; "I've been constantly fighting for survival"; "All kinds of jobs – I've sold fruits and sweets, I've been sanding shoes"; "Ever since I started working 30 years ago, my life has been plagued with problems and survival struggles"; "I'm unlikely to live for more than 10-15 years."
There is no answer to get in this quiet, sometimes dreamlike, movie.
But everything is not as black as Abbas wants it to be: he has a dutiful wife and three happy children, and lives in a small house, protected by a brick wall, in a clean and tidy street in the center of Kabul. But the lie he served when he tried to avoid paying the first of the three installments on the used bus he bought for 3000 euros, catches him. Significantly enough for his character, he turns out to be honest when it comes to the piece: “I understood that you don't get very far with being honest in Afghanistan. So I decided not to be honest, for once. But now I'm in an even worse situation. None of my plans and tricks worked. I lost both my bus and my job. ”
The father of the three boys is a cop and works in a city near the front line against the Taliban, while their mother is an invisible shadow and stays within the four walls of the home. The family lives on the hillside and overlooks the huge, dusty old cave surrounded by high mountains – Kabul.
The eldest boy is about 13, and we meet him for the first time down in the city with the two younger brothers (the very youngest usually tend to be left at home, where he cries about the injustice he is exposed to). His father survived a suicide bomb when he was in the military, but lost his closest mate in the same explosion. Since he has to work out of town, he has given the eldest son responsibility as the head of the family, and the boy's life is thus filled with small and large chores. It is precisely these tasks that Amini targets the camera lens.
The military conflict, on the other hand, is never far away: Both Abbas and the boys carry on a fear they are trying to hide, but leak out when they tell about their dreams or answer the director's questions. Or when they forget that the camera is there: One of the little boys hums a song sentence to himself: "Yellow cats don't go to war, because then you will die"; the bus workers at the bus station constantly check the latest news about the bombing on their cell phones, abandoned to what fate brings them: "We do not know when our last hour will come."
Amini's film offers no solution to the locked-in conflict that tore and tear Afghanistan apart, but leaves some questions on the table, questions we can all ask ourselves: What is our life really about? What do we hope for, what do we fear? And: How can we help make the world better?
There is no answer to get in this quiet, sometimes dreamlike, movie. Nor do we witness any shaking or violent touching. But the film gives us a candid picture of a place where ordinary people live and love and do as well as they can, although the news shows that this place is only filled with death and hatred.