Motherland Afghanistan

Watch Motherland Afghanistan

"Nearly one in seven Afghan women die in childbirth."
  • NR
  • 2007
  • 1 hr 14 min
  • 7.1  (44)

Motherland Afghanistan is a riveting documentary that takes its viewers deep into the war-torn country of Afghanistan, seen through the perspectives of Afghan-born American director Sedika Mojadidi and Afghan-American actor, Terrence Howard. The film documents the arduous travels, both physically and emotionally, experienced by the filmmakers as they navigate the intricate landscape and absorbing characters that embody the caleidoscope of life in Afghanistan.

The movie begins with a disclaimer, noting the images shown throughout may be graphic and disturbing, warning viewers before heading into the heart of the documentary. Despite the troubling visuals, the movie is a captivating portrayal of the country’s social and political idiosyncrasies, captured by the lens of Sedika and Terrence. The opening scene sets the tone for the documentary with a child looking despondent and vulnerable in his barren surroundings, he is the personification of Afghanistan.

From the start, the documentary explores the lives of everyday Afghans as Sedika shares her experiences and that of various women she meets throughout her travels, who speak candidly about challenges they face daily. Nafisa Mojadidi and Qudrat Mojadidi were brought in so that they could further guide Sedika through their homeland. The audience gains an appreciation of daily life in Afghanistan, portrayed in the daily routines, funny interactions and conversations that make up the fabric of the country. The film balances this with the harsh reality of constant terror attacks, corruption, and poverty that pervades nearly every aspect of life in this war-torn country.

The filmmaking draws a unique parallel between the director's journey through Afghanistan and Howard's journey with his father, displaying the similarities and contradictions of a country that has been entrenched in war for the last twenty years plus. A focal point of the movie is on the use of religion, Islam, as a means of confronting and reconciling the tumultuous past, with two of the characters looking for the good in the religion that played such a pivotal role in the destruction of their country.

The documentary’s true strength lies in its people-centric approach, which provides a glimpse of Afghan life and explores the complexity of Afghan-American identity. By capturing the day-to-day lives of Afghan women, men, and children, the documentary elevates the narrative that is not usually seen by the American public. It amplifies the voices of Afghans, rather than the Western media’s frequent portrayal of the country and its people as a monolithic entity.

As the camera follows Sedika and Howard, the filmmakers ask the heart-wrenching question, “What does it mean to be an Afghan to terminate the cycle of war?” The documentary expertly depicts the intricate connections between identity, culture, tradition, and the trauma of the country. Sedika and Howard have delivered an up-close view of what it means to be an Afghan in a society that is constantly changing while remaining rooted in tradition.

Furthermore, the movie provides a unique portrayal of women in Afghanistan, giving voice to brave women who forgo common societal norms and challenges to have their voice heard. It dissects the Pakistani-Afghan conflict and how the impact of this is felt by those born of the conflict.

The filmmakers opt for a beautiful, poetic landscape approach to depict the natural beauty of the country, a soothing calm amidst the surrounding chaos. This visual is coupled with a stirring soundtrack that is as spiritual as it is poignant.

In conclusion, Motherland Afghanistan is a poignant and powerful statement about the war-torn nation's complexity, seen through the lens of everyday Afghans. The film is felt at a personal, emotional level as Sedika Mojadidi and Terrence Howard tell the stories of genuine people and their struggles in a nation affected by conflict for over two decades. The documentary offers poignant social and historical context to the nation’s rich cultural history and provides a refreshing perspective to aid in the comprehension of the nation's complexity, tradition, corruption, and progress.

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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 14 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.1  (44)