×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Female Afghan Filmmaker Roya Sadat Defies Odd With Her Feature Film ‘Letter’

Roya Sadat needs a champion. Her film, “A Letter to the President,” is Afghanistan’s contender in Oscar’s foreign language film category, but the production just does not have the resources to mount an Oscar campaign.
 “It is difficult for us, because we still haven’t finished paying for the film,” says Sadat. The film world premiered at Locarno in August where Hong Kong based Asian Shadows signed on for international sales.
A Letter to the President,” a social drama that follows a woman on death row who writes to the Afghanistan president explaining the societal reasons that led her to murder her husband, is playing in the Busan Film Festival’s A Window on Asian Cinema section.
Sadat grew up in Afghanistan under the Taliban regime, meaning that she was confined to her home and could not go to school. She discovered cinema through a book and became fascinated by the medium. She used her time at home to write plays and drafts of a screenplay that eventually became her 2003 crime drama “Three Dots.”
Sadat’s first act after the Taliban regime departed in 2001 was to begin shooting “Three Dots” (2003), set in her native city of Herat. The film travelled to global festivals including Three Continents in Nantes and the Bangkok Film Festival, and along with Sidik Barmak’s “Osama” (2003), which won a Golden Globe, and put Afghanistan on the world cinema map.
Upon completion of “Three Dots” she studied law and politics at university. Subsequently, along with her sister Alka, Roya set up Roya Film House, Afghanistan’s first women-run film company. The company financed itself producing television dramas for the Tolo TV channel.
Sadat’s next project, “The Warm Bread and the Nipple’s Circle,” a drama about rape and its aftermath, was accepted into Busan’s Asian Project Market in 2009 and eventually went to the Goa Film Bazaar in 2013. A producer came on board but bailed in 2015, citing Afghanistan’s security situation and lack of insurance.
With “A Letter to the President,” Sadat was determined to improve her country’s almost non-existent cinema production infrastructure. Most of the cast and crew worked for little or nothing and the $200,000 budget was spent largely on modern shooting and post-production equipment that the country lacked.
But the biggest problem Sadat faces is her gender. “The Taliban are against women, against human rights and against democracy,” says Sadat. “During the Taliban years, many people became Talibanized. Those people are still living in Afghanistan now. So it is not very comfortable for women, especially those who work in the media.
“When you are talking about films, it is not easy for men even because there is no support from the government,” says Sadat. She says that the government is too busy with political matters to bother about culture.
“But Afghanistanis need to tell their stories to the world,” Sadat continues. “’A Letter to the President’ tries to do this. But it’s not easy.”

More Film

  • Q&A With Juan Villegas on ‘Las

    Argentina’s Juan Villegas on ‘Las Vegas,’ Featuring at Cannes’ ACID

    CANNES – Buenos Aires’ director-producer Juan Villegas presented his debut “Saturday” at the Venice Festival and won awards at the Rotterdam and Sarajevo film festivals. “Suicidals” screened at San Sebastián. “Idleness,” his third feature, co-directed with Alejando Lingenti, screened at the Berinale. Produced by Salvador del Solar at Argentina’s Cepa Audiovisual and by Villegas’ production [...]

  • Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Kenneth Branagh

    Christopher Nolan's New Film Casts Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Kenneth Branagh

    Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Kenneth Branagh will appear in Christopher Nolan’s upcoming film, “Tenet,” led by John David Washington. Clémence Poésy, Dimple Kapadia, Michael Caine are also joining the cast that includes Washington as well as Elizabeth Debicki and Robert Pattinson. “Tenet,” which is being filmed on location across seven countries, is an action epic evolving [...]

  • Cannes Placeholder Red Carpet

    Eddie Peng, Ma Sichun Join Ann Hui's 'Love After Love'

    Eddie Peng (“Operation Mekong” “The Hidden Man”) will head the cast of “Love After Love” the new film by Hong Kong’s Ann Hui. He plays opposite Ma Sichun (“The Shadow Play,” “Soul Mate”). The picture, which started shooting on Wednesday in China, is the story of a young woman from Shanghai who travels to Hong [...]

  • 'Matthias & Maxime' Review: Xavier Dolan's

    Cannes Film Review: 'Matthias & Maxime'

    If there’s one term that Xavier Dolan probably never wants or needs to hear again, it’s “enfant terrible.” Irresistible to use when the Québécois auteur was 19, rattling out of the gate with his antsy, angry lash-out of a debut, “I Killed My Mother,” it’s followed him doggedly through a series of variously spiky, variably [...]

  • Cannes: Agoraphobia Drama '522' Sells to

    Cannes: Agoraphobia Comedy-Drama '522' Sells to South Korea (EXCLUSIVE)

    Media Luna New Films has sold South Korean rights for comedy-drama “522. A Cat, a Chinese Guy and My Father” to Laon-I at Cannes. The film tells the story of George, an agoraphobic young woman who can’t walk more than 522 steps from her home. One day, her cat forces her to embark on a [...]

  • Aladdin

    'Aladdin' to Soar Above Box Office Competition Over Memorial Day Weekend

    When Disney first released “Aladdin” in 1992, Bill Clinton was just settling in to the Oval Office, “Game of Thrones” wasn’t much more than a book idea percolating in the mind of author George R.R. Martin, and Johnny Carson was wrapping up his stint as “Tonight Show” host. In some ways, 2019 feels like a [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content