Wajma (An Afghan Love Story)

Director: Barmak Akram
Afghanistan | 2012 | Fiction | Persian w/English subtitles
Run Time: 86 minutes
Film source: Doc & Film International
Sponsor: The Caroline Baird Crichfield Fund 


Achingly realistic and immediately affecting, Wajma relates an age-old story through a neotraditionalist lens. It offers a fascinating portrait of conflicting middle class family values in contemporary Afghanistan. The title character (Wajma Behar) is a young Afghan woman with a bright future ahead of her – a future that is immediately called into question when she becomes pregnant before marrying. Her boyfriend, Mustafa (Mustafa Abdulsatar), is charming and loving, but only to a point, and his insensitivity puts Wajma in a dangerous situation. As one character puts it, Afghan society is far too “outdated” to offer any decent options to an unmarried, pregnant woman. Beyond its emotional rawness and fly-on-the-wall cinematography (which deliberately echoes that of many of the films of the Iranian New Wave), Wajma’s major achievement occurs at the narrative level. Two-thirds through the film, the story shifts its focus from Wajma and Mustafa to the young woman’s father, who is faced with a crisis of his own: punish his daughter for shaming his family, or care for the daughter he loves? In presenting multiple sides of a complex issue, Wajma demonstrates its acute sensitivity to the emotional realities of everyday life.

About the Director: Barmak Akram was born in 1966 in Kabul. He received diplomas from three major art schools in France, including the École nationale supérieure des Beaux Arts. Besides directing several short films and documentaries and two full-length features (Kabuli Kid premiered in 2008 at the Venice Film Festival), Akram is also a musician, songwriter, and composer.