“The Postman,” the third feature from 2004 Golden Globe winner Siddiq Barmak (“Osama”), will be offered at Locarno’s co-production forum, the Open Doors Hub, one among an eight-project pack selected from the South Asian region.
David Wahab at Kabul-based Star Group produces “The Postman.” He previously worked on Zobair Farghand’s “Neighbors” and Homayoun Morouwat’s “An Apple from Paradise.” Founded in 2006, Star Group is a film company that is strongly rooted in Afghanistan’s present. Karsten Stöter at Germany’s Rohfilm, whose credits include Kirill Serebrennikov’s “Yuri’s Day,” is on to co-produce.
“The Postman” revolves around the devastating effects a son’s death from a rocket attack in Kabul has on his family. The mother buries herself in silence while the daughter runs the house. The father Amir, trying to find some relief, returns to his postman duties in a city surrounded by war. It is set in the winter of 1991, right before the battle of Kabul (1992-1996) and the Taliban Emirate (1996-2001).
“It’s a film about transformation and how ordinary people are at the heart of massive political upheavals. Like ‘Osama’ and ‘Opium War.’ it is about the human cost of tyranny,” Barmak told Variety.
When Amir’s younger son gets in trouble, the father asks Sailay, a letter reader for the secret police, for help. Amir then gets caught up in a convoluted web he barely understands.
“‘Osama’ was about a time in Afghanistan when we lost our history; we forgot the beautiful parts of our heritage and our place as the crossroads of the world. This film is about restoring our past to ourselves. Virtually every Kabuli has a story from this time, yet it is a mostly forgotten period,” Barmak added.
Barmak’s debut “Osama” hit Cannes Directors’ Fortnight taking a Camera d’Or jury special mention and the festival’s youth jury prize. Internationally sold by Cinema Without Frontiers, the feature was the first production to be made after the fall of the Taliban. It portrayed the religious fanaticism and misogyny during that era. “Osama” is the highest-grossing Afghan film ever, taking $3,800,000 worldwide from a production budget of below $50,000.
“This project needs to be made. It tells a human story in a war environment. We don’t see the tanks, the bombs. We see people finding out how to survive on a daily basis in this bubble. They have to keep working. I’ve no doubt it’s a great project,” producer Wahab told Variety.
Scheduled for shooting over March-April of next year in Afghanistan and Tajikistan, the Dari/Farsi-language “The Postman” is budgeted at $1.2 million.