Afghan Director Begins Filming New Movie In Iran

Afghan filmmaker Ramin Rasuli has started filming his new movie “Dogs Did Not Sleep Last Night” in Iran, Tehran Times said in a report on Tuesday.

The film which is a joint production between Afghanistan and Iran, narrates the story of a remote Afghan village captured by the Taliban, and the exploits occurring after a village girl takes a US airborne soldier, who has survived a helicopter crash, into their village.

A cast of Iranian and Afghan actors is collaborating on this project, a public relations team announced on Tuesday.

“Dogs Did Not Sleep Last Night” is Rasuli’s second film in Iran with Iranian producer Siavash Haqiqi.

He made his debut film “Lina” in 2017 in Iran with a cast composed of prominent Iranian actors Amir Aqai and Homayun Ershadi and Afghan actress Hasiba Ebrahimi.


Govt, UNESCO Criticized For ‘Inattention’ To Minaret Of Jam

A special meeting attended by officials from Ministry of Information and Culture and representatives of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) was held in Kabul on Saturday to discuss ways to protect the 900-year-old Minaret of Jam in Afghanistan’s Ghor province – which is on the verge of collapse due to recent flash floods.

The minaret is located in Ghor, around 200 kilometers east of Herat in the west of Afghanistan, at the confluence of the Hari Rud and Jam Rud rivers. The isolated location of the minaret may have prevented the monument from intentional destruction over nearly 900 years.

The minaret is believed to have been built between 1163 and 1203 during the reign of the Ghurid sovereign Ghyias-ud-Din. It has been on the UNESCO List of World Heritage Properties in Danger since 2002.

The minaret is 62 meters high and was built entirely of baked bricks and is famous for its intricate brick, stucco and glazed tile decoration.

Minaret of Jam after the Qutub Minar in New Delhi is the second tallest brick-built minaret in the world.

A number of lames said the Afghan government, especially the Ministry of Information and Culture, and the UNESCO have not paid the required attention to protect the endangered monument in Ghor.

Herat officials, however, said that almost 300 employees were assigned to change the direction of the flood and their mission was successfully accomplished on Saturday.

“Palaces that are not even hundred years old (are being reconstructed), but cultural and historic heritages such a Minaret of Jam which is over 800 years old, unfortunately, have been forgotten and it is an obvious discrimination against the cultural heritage and historical sites of west zone,” Abdul Zahir Tamim, an MP, said.

“The Minaret of Jam’s budget documents should be assessed comprehensively,” Keramuddin Reza Zada, an MP said.

Acting Minister of Information and Culture Hasina Safi said at the meeting that they are working on protection of the minaret.

“It is not easy. It is not just a wall. It is not such an ancient site that we can reconstruct it. It is centuries of Afghanistan’s history,” Safi said.

The Presidential Palace in a statement said that it was decided in the cabinet meeting on Saturday to send a team to Ghor and assess the status of the minaret.

Imran Khan Massoudi, an advisor to the UNESCO office in Kabul, said millions of dollars are needed for protection and maintenance of the minaret.

Massoudi said UNESCO has allocated $2 million for assessing and protection of the minaret.

“At any level you want, UNESCO has an obligation to find experts from any corner of the world. But the order should come from the Ministry of Information and Culture and from the Afghan government. UNESCO alone never can make a decision or can take action,” said Massoudi.


800-year-old Minaret of Jam at risk of demolition as flash floods hit Ghor province

The 800-year-old Minaret of Jam is in danger of a total collapse as devastating floods have hit Ghor province in North-west of Afghanistan.

The devastating flash floods hit the province on Wednesday with photographs being circulated on social media purportedly showing the historic Minaret’s vicinity is covered with water and mud.

According to reports, the river located close to the Minaret of Jam has overflown its banks, posing a serious risk to the historic Minaret.

The observers are saying that the collapse of the Minaret would be another major blow to the heritage properties of the country after the destruction of Bamiyan Buddhas if the officials did not pay immediate attention to protect the Minaret from flash floods.

The Minaret of Jam is located in Ghor province, Afghanistan, around 200km east of Herat, at the confluence of the Huri Rud and Jam Rud rivers.

Probably built between 1163 and 1203 during the reign of the Ghurdi sovreign Ghyias-ud-Din, its first rediscovery dates back to 1944, when the Minaret is mentioned in an article published by the Afghan History Society in the journal Anis, according to UNESCO.

The Minaret of Jam was included in the UNESCO List of World Heritage Properties in Danger since 2002.


Angelina Jolie Describes Sahraa Karimi’s Appointment As Historic

Congratulatory messages poured in on the appointment of Sahraa Karimi as Director General of Afghan Film, the country’s state-run film production company established in 1968.

Filmmaker and director, Karimi, is the first Afghan woman who was appointed to the post through a merit-based process in the Independent Administrative Reform and Civil Service Commission.

Angelina Jolie, a former Hollywood actor and the Special Envoy of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, in a letter to Karimi, described her appointment as a historic achievement for women in Afghanistan.

“I was moved to hear of your recent historic appointment as the Director General of the Afghan Film production company. I wanted to write to congratulate you on your remarkable achievement. Afghanistan is very close to my heart and I can imagine how much your appointment means to your fellow countrywomen in particular,” she wrote.

She pledged to support Karimi’s efforts for the filmmaking industry in Afghanistan.

“If there are ways that I or my office can support your efforts, and filmmaking in Afghanistan, I hope you will let me know,” the letter reads.

On Sunday, Karimi officially started her new job.

Acting Minister of Information and Culture Hasina Safi described Karimi as an outstanding and talented filmmaker.

“We have got our outstanding and talented sister Sahraa Karimi as director general of Afghan Film and she does not need more introduction,” said Safi.

Talking to TOLOnews, Karimi said that at first, she did not take Angelina Jolie’s letter serious but later she found out that it was a real appreciation from her success.

“First, I thought it is a joke. I wanted to say that it is not possible. One is a letter you receive from a person which represents from one person, but the other is one that you find a supporter. It means that my appointment to a job even brought joy to those outside Afghanistan,” Karimi explained.

“First, I thought it is a joke. I wanted to say that it is not possible. One is a letter you receive from a person which represents from one person, but the other is one that you find a supporter. It means that my appointment to a job even brought joy to those outside Afghanistan,” Karimi explained. 
Sahraa Karimi chatting with her new colleagues at Afghan Film.

She said that there is a lot to do in this field and in her new mission.

“If they ask me to bring a stone from the mountain in an hour, I find thousands of ways to bring that stone. It is normal for me. But if they say and explain how I will bring that stone, this will take some time. I want to say that I am a practical person rather than an administrative individual,” added Karimi.

Karimi, 30, has more than 10 years of experience in filmmaking and has directed at least 30 movies.

She has a Ph.D. in cinema from the Academy of Music and Performing Arts, Film and TV Faculty in Bratislava, Slovakia.

Karimi is the first and the only woman in Afghanistan who has a Ph.D. in cinema and filmmaking.

She has been actively engaged in filmmaking in Afghanistan in the last six years. She has produced and directed 30 short fictions, two documentary films, and one long-fiction film.

She has been actively engaged in filmmaking in Afghanistan in the last six years. She has produced and directed 30 short fictions, two documentary films, and one long-fiction film. 
Sahraa Karimi in her office at Afghan Film.

Her pictures “Afghan Women behind Driving the Wheel, Memoirs of an Immigrant Girl, and In Search of Fantasy” have won international awards.

In her latest movie, “Eve, Maryam, Ayesha”, she has reflected the real life of Afghan women.


Afghan Treasures Displayed At China Exhibition

An exhibition of Afghan treasures and relics was held in Beijing on May 17 as part of efforts to expand cultural engagement between China and Asia Pacific.

“A nation stays alive when its culture stays alive” was the  words shown at the entrance of the exhibition at Tsinghua University Art Museum in Beijing.

China is one of the many stops on the nomadic journey of these Afghan treasures, which narrowly survived years of conflicts and destruction in the war-torn country, according to China’s state news agency, Xinhua.

The exhibition has toured France, Italy, the Netherlands, the United States, Canada, Germany, Britain, Australia, Japan and South Korea since 2006.

In 2017, China joined the global relay to protect and display these treasures in efforts to keep the crucial part of an ancient civilization alive.

In 2018, a 150-piece aboriginal art exhibition titled “Old Masters: Australia’s Great Bark Artists” was held in China, and a Chinese calligraphy and painting exhibition opened at the National Museum of Australia last month.

In March 2017, Director of Afghan National Museum Mohammad Fahim Rahimi traveled to China together with 231 pieces of his country’s national treasures and relics, which were later displayed in the Palace Museum in Beijing.

The three-month exhibition drew more than 8,000 visitors per day, who were amazed at the rich history and culture of Afghanistan and the concerted global efforts to keep the treasures in safe hands.

In 2001, the Taliban regime that ruled Afghanistan dynamited and destroyed two enormous 6th century giant Buddhas of Bamiyan, besides wreaking havoc on other precious cultural relics. The 231 precious items on display overseas were among a number of rare collections secretly saved by Afghan museum staff from the flames of war.

They represent the cultural heritage from the Bronze Age, the Hellenistic period and the Kushan dynasty, as well as the period between the invasion of the Yuezhi people and the establishment of the Kushan dynasty, showcasing the integration and mingling of ancient civilizations.

“Afghanistan has served as the crossroad of civilizations in the course of history that connects South Asia to Central Asia and as well as the East to the West,” said Rahimi as quoted by China’s state news agency.

Displaying Afghanistan’s cultural treasures in China, a peaceful and populous country, is vital for the introduction of Afghanistan’s civilization to the Chinese audience, he said.


First Black Female Director to Compete at Cannes Calls for Equality in the Industry

Mati Diop, the first woman of African descent to compete for the top prize at Cannes with a haunting film about migrants, said on Friday the label made her “sad” but showed how much work there was to do for equality in the movie industry.

The director — whose debut feature film “Atlantics”, set in Senegal, evokes the impact of migrant journeys on those left behind — said she was also driven by a desire to see black lives represented on screen.

“It was really a need, a very urgent need,” Diop told a news conference. “It wasn’t the only motor of the film, because it is not a motor that is enough to write a story, but at the end of the script, I was like ‘Now I want to see these black actors’ … and a lot of people need that.”

The French-Senegalese filmmaker took an unusual path to get there, working with a cast of first time actors — some of whom were approached on the streets of Dakar.

Diop added that she was moved when seeing films with black stars, including those of “Get Out” director Jordan Peele.

Developed from Diop’s 2009 documentary short about a Senegalese man who died making a sea crossing to Spain, “Atlantics” shifts the focus to the women left behind as a group of men disappear on their journey.

Praised by critics for its absorbing atmosphere, the film is richly poetic, lingering on the waves crashing onto the coast — menacingly at times, pulling viewers into a trance at others.

“I think the first idea was to turn the ocean into an accomplice to people leaving by sea. I saw the ocean as a supernatural force which swallowed up youth into its depth,” Diop said.

The movie also has other mystical moments, as the narrative takes a ghostly turn.

Diop and three other female directors — Jessica Hausner, Celine Sciamma and Justine Triet — were picked as contenders in Cannes’ main competition this year, out of 21 entries.

Diop said it was striking that she was the first black women to make the cut.

“My first feeling, to be honest, was a little sadness, that this only happens now, today, in 2019. It is pretty late, and it is incredible that it is still an event today,” she said.

“It is always a reminder that so much work needs to be done still.”


State-owned Afghan Film will have a female director for the first time in its history

The state-owned Afghan film industry, Afghan Film, will have a female director for the first time its 51-year history, officials announced Wednesday.

The Independent Administrative Reform and Civil Service Commission announced late on Wednesday that Sahraa Karimi has been appointed as the director of the state-owned film industry, Afghan Film.

The Chairman of the Independent Administrative Reform and Civil Service Commission Nader Nadery said Karimi was appointed as Director General of Afghan Film through a merit-based process conducted by the commission.

Nadery further added that Karimi will assume charge of the Afghan Film next week.

Established in 1968, the Afghan Film has played a critical role in supporting and strengthening the film industry in Afghanistan.

The institution witnessed major setbacks similar as the other state-owned institutions during the devastating civil war and did not have major activities after the fall of the Taliban regime, mainly due to the lack of budget and government’s reluctance to bolster the activities of the institution.

Born in Iran, Karimi is a young Afghan filmmaker who has obtained her Master’s and PhD degrees in the field of Fiction Film Directing and Screenwriting from the Academy of Music and Performing Arts (VSMU), Film and Television Faculty in 2009 and 2012.

She has also won international awards for several movies directed by her including the film project ‘Afghan Women Behind the Wheel’.


‘Avengers: Endgame’ Obliterates Records With $1.2b Opening

The universe belongs to Marvel. “Avengers: Endgame” shattered the record for biggest opening weekend with an estimated $350 million in ticket sales domestically and $1.2 billion globally, reaching a new pinnacle in the blockbuster era that the comic-book studio has come to dominate.

The movie had been forecast to open between $260 million and $300 million in US and Canadian theaters, but moviegoers turned out in such droves that “Endgame” blew past the previous record of $257.7 million, set last year by “Avengers: Infinity War” when it narrowly surpassed “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” ($248 million or about $266 million in inflation adjusted dollars.)

“Endgame” was just as enormous overseas. Worldwide, it obliterated the previous record of $640.5 million, also set by “Infinity War.” (“Infinity War” didn’t open in China, the world’s second largest movie market, until two weeks after its debut.) “Endgame” set a new weekend record in China, too, where it made $330.5 million.

In one fell swoop, “Endgame” has already made more than movies like “Skyfall,” ″Aquaman” and “The Dark Knight Rises” grossed in their entire runs, not accounting for inflation.

Alan Horn, Disney chairman, credited Marvel Studios and its president, Kevin Feige, for challenging “notions of what is possible at the movie theater.”

“This weekend’s monumental success is a testament to the world they’ve envisioned, the talent involved, and their collective passion, matched by the irrepressible enthusiasm of fans around the world,” Horn said in a statement.

To accommodate demand, the Walt Disney Co. released “Endgame” in more theaters — 4,662 in the U.S. and Canada — than any opening before. Advance ticketing services set new records. Early ticket buyers crashed AMC’s website. And starting Thursday, some theaters even stayed open 72 hours straight.

“We’ve got some really tired staff,” said John Fithian, president and chief executive of the National Association of Theater Owners. “I talked to an exhibitor in Kansas who said, ‘I’ve never sold out a 7 a.m. show on Saturday morning before,’ and they were doing it all across their circuit.”

Not working in the film’s favor was its lengthy running time: 181 minutes. But theaters kept added thousands of showings for “Endgame” to get it on more screens than any movie before to satiate the frenzy around “Endgame.” Joe and Anthony Russo’s film ties together the “Avengers” storyline as well as the previous 21 releases of the Marvel “cinematic universe,” begun with 2008′s “Iron Man.”

For an industry dogged by uncertainty over the growing role of streaming, the weekend was a mammoth display of the movie theater’s lucrative potency. Fithian called it possibly “the most significant moment in the modern history of the movie business.”

“We’re looking at more than 30 million American and more than 100 million global guests that experienced ‘Endgame’ on the big screen in one weekend,” Fithian said. “The numbers are just staggering.”

Further boosting the results for “Endgame” were good reviews; it currently ranks as 96% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, the best rating for any Marvel movie aside from “Black Panther.” Audiences gave the film an A-plus CinemaScore.

Single-handedly, “Endgame” led the overall weekend at the domestic box office to a record $400 million in ticket sales, according to Comscore. “Endgame” accounted for a staggering 88% of those tickets. The film’s grosses were aided by 3-D screenings (a record $540 million in global ticket sales) and IMAX screenings (a company record $91.5 million).

“Our partners in exhibition have done a great job with us on this film. As they saw the need, they opened up screens,” said Cathleen Taft, distribution chief for Disney. “While there may have been a concern — Is there going to be enough seats available? — I think that exhibition met that demand and rose to the occasion.”

But if there was any shadow to the weekend for the theatrical business, it was in just how reliant theaters have grown on one studio: Disney.

Disney now holds all but one of the top 12 box-office openings of all time. (Universal’s “Jurassic World” is the lone exception.) The studio is poised for a record-breaking year, with releases including “Aladdin,” ″Toy Story 4,” ″The Lion King,” ″Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” and “Frozen 2” on the horizon.

Following its acquisition of 20th Century Fox, Disney is expected to account for at least 40% of domestic box-office revenue in 2019, a new record of market share. The company’s “Captain Marvel” — positioned as a kind of Marvel lead-in to “Endgame” — also rose to No. 2 on the weekend, eight weeks after it opened. (The 22 films of Marvel’s “cinematic universe” have collectively earned $19.9 billion at the box office.)

Yet theater owners regularly speak of a “halo effect” around a movie like “Endgame.” Such sensations draw in new moviegoers and expose millions to a barrage of movie trailers.

“This has got to be the biggest weekend in popcorn history,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for Comscore. “Think of the gallons of soda and the hot dogs sold. This is going to continue all week and beyond. This is going to have long-term playability for sure.”

An enormous hit was much needed for a box office that, coming into the weekend, was lagging 16% of the pace of last year’s ticket sales, according to Comscore. “Endgame” moved the needle to negative 13.3% but the boost was less significant since “Infinity War” opened on the same weekend in 2018.

No other new wide release dared to open against “Endgame.” Warner Bros.′ “The Curse of La Llorona,” last week’s top movie, slid to third with $7.5 million.

The guessing game will now shift to just how much higher “Endgame” can go. Given its start, it’s likely to rival the top three worldwide grossers: “The Force Awakens” ($2.068 billion in 2015), “Titanic ($2.187 billion in 1997) and “Avatar” ($2.788 in 2009).

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Comscore. Where available, the latest international numbers for Friday through Sunday are also included.

1. “Avengers: Endgame,” $350 million ($859 million international).

2. “Captain Marvel,” $8.1 million.

3. “The Curse of La Llorona,” $7.5 million.

4. “Breakthrough,” $6.3 million.

5. “Shazam!” $5.5 million.

6. “Little,” $3.4 million.

7. “Dumbo,” $3.2 million.

8. “Pet Sematary,” $1.3 million.

9. “Us,” $1.1 million.

10. “Penguins,” $1.1 million.


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