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Laila, the mother of addicts

Laila at the Bridge
Regissør: Elizabeth Mirzaei Gulistan Mirzaei
(Afghanistan, Canada)

Laila at the Bridge takes us on a grueling journey to Kabul's gloomy drug environment, accompanied by a woman trying to save addicts.

Laila Haidari, a chubby Afghan woman of the 30 years, wears her ballerina shoes and walks ahead under the notorious Pul-e Sukhta Bridge, where she moves in heavy stench between used syringes and swallowed bodies. Opium-addicted men, many older than her, tenderly call her "mother." In return, she refers to them as "my boys" and urges them to come to her makeshift rehabilitation center, called "Mother Camp."

Laila at the Bridge is an observational documentary that patiently follows the Afghan woman as she tries, on her own, to help the drug addicts in the center she runs without the support of the government or foreign aid.

An anesthetic

Rescuing the addicts seems like a Sisyphus task, because Haidari is facing relapse, financial obstacles and opposition from the authorities. For a time, she financed her hostels with funds from her own restaurant, with pending addicts as labor, but it soon became a futile project after a series of attacks drove customers away. "War, war, everything is due to war," Haidari says with empathy as drug addict Ikhtiar Gul tells his story. He was previously the bodyguard for Afghan President Najibullah Ahmadzai, but is now a disfigured man who refuses to cut his beard because he does not want a scar from. . .

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Sevara Pan
Sevara Pan is a writer, based in Berlin.

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