Osama (Afghanistan/Japan/Ireland; 82 min.)

directed by: Siddiq Barmak
starring: Marina Golbahari; Arif Herati; Zubaida Sahar
Diane says: "As Janet and I were alone in the theater during a late-night deluge (had
been directed by usher not to sit under the falling wet tiles), I took the liberty of shouting out some of the subtitles and also some movie titles I was put in mind of while watching OSAMA. These include: The Unbearable Lightness of Being, A Time for Drunken Horses, Raise the Red Lantern (ending), and of course somehow Janet got Blair Witch in there. Quote from Janet: 'Hmmm, what would Aileen Wuornos do in this situation?'

"The story was weak and the acting of the main character came up short; we would have preferred to see a film starring her young protector, Espandi.

"Best in this movie are certain lingering images: the slow stirring of hot milk in a big tub; scores of women in pale blue burkhas, looking like mutant beings as they bump against each together; sandaled feet hanging over a bicycle wheel and slowly covered by a burkha...." 3 cats


Michael says: "Chris and I were fortunate enough to squeeze into a sold-out preview for this film the other night, and were treated to a powerful, well-made film, the first feature-length film released from Afghanistan, and winner of this year's Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film. First-time writer/editor/director, Siddiq Barmak bursts out of the starting gate with a truly accomplished film depicting the horrific state of life for women particularly during the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

"Three generations of women are represented by a young girl, her mother, and grandmother. The men in their family have died, and in the Taliban-ruled nation, women are not allowed on the streets without male escorts, and are forbidden to work. In order to provide for the family, the young girl is disguised as a boy and sent to work with a family friend. When she is inadvertantly "drafted" into school with the rest of the village boys, her fear mounts, even as she learns of the relative freedoms that men receive.

"Barmak learned the filmmaking process in Iran, so OSAMA has much in common with the films of that country (i.e. don't expect a happy ending!) The acting by the inexperienced actors is strong, and the visuals are striking and cinematic. An opening sequence of Taliban officers using high-powered hoses to clear a demonstration of women from the street is nightmarish and compelling with the blue shapeless burka-clad women being harshly tossed by the raging water. The story is pretty straight-forward with few surprises, but it is one that is still such an alien concept to a Western audience, that it still conveys an important outrage." 4 cats