Against a backdrop of military occupation and suicide bombings, life goes on in the capital of Afghanistan, unfolding in this lyrical, achingly gentle portrait of ordinary people struggling to get by.
In fact, Kabul, City in the Wind is a diptych, alternating between two stories. The first is that of hapless but charismatic bus driver Abas, whom we first encounter warbling a folk song that sounds patriotic until he gets to the lyric “This is the fatherland of thieves and conscienceless people.” It turns out might be alluding to himself: Though a kind husband and father, he’s also a bit of a wretch, perpetually in debt due to bus repairs and a drug problem. Robbing Peter to pay Paul, he asks one acquaintance, “Who is more cocky and charlatan than me?” (The fact that Abas is played not by a professional actor but a former soldier only adds to the poignancy.)
The second is that of preteen Afshin; forced to flee the country for political reasons, his father has designated him “the man of the house” at the tender age of 12. It’s a role the child assumes as nobly as he can under the circumstances, completing chores and community work while watching over his even younger (and utterly precious) brothers Hussein and Benjamin—who has his own tune to capture the mood. “Yellow kitty, stay home / Don’t go to war, you may die,” he sings. Whether he knows what the words mean remains to be seen.
In an interview with Variety, first-time feature director Aboozar Amini admitted that shooting in Kabul was a dangerous enterprise; he was in Deh Mazang Square when an attack killed dozens and wounded hundreds of peace protestors in 2016, an event referenced in his film. But, he said, “there’s life in between those bombs…We only need to open our eyes and listen.”
Producer: Jia Zhao | Editor: Barbara Hin
Additional Countries: Germany, Japan, Netherlands