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15 Essential Documentaries About Afghanistan, From ‘Taxi to the Dark Side’ to ‘Hell and Back Again’

Afghanistan Documentaries to Watch
©Think Film/Courtesy Everett Collection/Courtesy Images

Documentaries about Afghanistan have proliferated as the U.S. war dragged on for nearly 20 years. As U.S. military forces withdraw from the region, here’s a look at these disparate works, which have tackled everything from the Central Asian nation’s long history of conflict to military interrogation techniques, battlefield conditions and the repressive climate for women.

Michael Moore’s Cannes Palme d’Or winning “Fahrenheit 9/11,” first out of the gate in 2004, focused more tightly on then-President George W. Bush, Osama bin Laden and Saudi Arabia than Afghanistan and the U.S. invasion there in October 2001. Alex Gibney’s Oscar-winning “Taxi to the Dark Side,” by contrast, centered on the death of an Afghan cab driver at a U.S. military base; the film debuted at Tribeca Film Festival in 2007 and won the Academy Award for documentary in 2008.

In the years since, documentary filmmakers have increasingly turned their lens on soldiers in the field and the plight of women in the region. “Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl)” won the Oscar for documentary short last year, while the latest in a series of “Frontline” documentaries about Afghanistan debuted July 20 on the eve of the U.S. military’s wrenching departure from the country.

Here are 15 documentaries that offer insights on the chaos now engulfing Afghanistan.