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Return to Kandahar

Post-war Afghanistan, as seen through the eyes of Nelofer Pazira, star of the movie "Kandahar," as she searches for her childhood friend.

A printer-friendly version of this page 65 minutes
Directed by Paul Jay and Nelofer Pazira
Produced by Icebreaker Films and j films inc. in association with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Executive Producer: David M. Ostriker
Director of Photography: Martin Duckworth

"In just 60 minutes she takes us deeper into Afghanistan than all those endless hours of CNN." Macleans
Nelofer Pazira, the star of the movie "Kandahar," returns to Afghanistan to seek out her childhood friend Dyana, whose story inspired that film. Landing in Kabul 13 years after her family left Russian-occupied Afghanistan, Nelofer unravels her past and the history of her country while searching for Dyana; the epic journey takes her to Kabul, Kandahar and Masir-e-Sharif, where Dyana's uncle last had contact with her family.

Nelofer journeys across a broken land smashed by war with the Russians, years of anarchy under the Northern Alliance, the Taliban, and now by America's "war on terror." Incisively weaving Nelofer's personal story with that of Afghanistan itself, RETURN TO KANDAHAR shows a country once again in the grip of warlords.

Grade Level: 10-12, College, Adult
US Release Date: 2003     Copyright Date: 2003
DVD ISBN: 1-59458-026-X     VHS ISBN: 1-59458-019-7

"Breathtaking...Straddling two cultures, Pazira is an inspiration, a journalist with analysis, wit and compassion. In just 60 minutes she takes us deeper into Afghanistan than all those endless hours of CNN. And with the media's eye now trained on Iraq, she reminds us that there is more truth in the aftermath than in the heat of the action."

"RETURN TO KANDAHAR is like a road trip through a war zone...Probing and impassioned...[it] is not only essential supplemental viewing for those who've seen Kandahar, it also comes at a time of fortuitous historical coincidence. As a film that documents what happens in a country when the foreign armies leave and the world press pack up and go home, it commands our attention every bit as much as its predecessor."
Toronto Starweek Magazine

"Deeply moving"
Hollywood Reporter

"A wonderful documentary...It's about the turbulent history of the country in the last few decades and how the country became the focus of world events...It's an astonishing story of the personal and political."
(Toronto) Globe and Mail

"Shocking, suspenseful as any drama. But it is also a shocking portrait of a nation still reeling from years of war, resistance and oppression."
Ottawa Citizen

"Beautifully weaves in Afghanistan's past history and its current reality...The directors have presented the historical facts without passing judgement. Yet, there is recognition that Afghan society and individuals have suffered greatly under foreign intervention. The rise of the Taliban and the persecution of women are explored not only through the eyes of women but also the clerics...RETURN TO KANDAHAR is a poignant, thoughtful, and touching story about friendship, which transcends political, historical, and geographic separation."
Sarah Zaidi, Director, Center for Economic and Social Rights

"Breathtaking and bittersweet...Pazira's thoughtful and at times harrowing search for her own history."
The Gazette

"[Paul Jay] has a gift for telling the most difficult stories with stunning and poignant images that haunt, inspire and empower...RETURN TO KANDAHAR reveals an Afghanistan that, since the events of Sept. 11, western journalists and their audiences know little, if anything, about. The billions of dollars of promised aid from America's 'War on Terror' haven't arrived ... yet. The film is simultaneously disturbing and compelling. It is hard to look away...I urge you to watch RETURN TO KANDAHAR."
Bret Hart, Calgary Sun

"[Pazira's] search for her lost friend -- a symbol of Afghan oppression -- provid[es] this mesmerizing, quietly devastating documentary with a human backdrop that allows viewers to engage with the material in a way a straightforward news documentary never could."
Kitchener-Waterloo Record

"Earnest, articulate and angry, Pazira is a compelling commentator on Afghanistan's latest batch of miseries, which she perceives to have less to do with the Taliban than Cold War-era geopolitics...the fate of Pazira's quest makes it...heart-rending."
Eye Magazine

"Kandahar was great. RETURN TO KANDAHAR is even better...Nelofer is beautiful and fierce, just like the women in her country."
Masuda Sultan, Women for Afghan Women

"Detailing a fascinating and powerful personal story, [RETURN TO KANDAHAR] is also important in its revelations about present-day Afghanistan from the perspective of ordinary, still-suffering people rather than powerbrokers. Highly recommended."
Video Librarian

"The directors of this remarkable film reveal far more than news coverage does about how the years of war and empty promises of peaceful reconstruction have wreaked a tragic toll on the people of Afghanistan."
Linda Alkana, Department of History, California State University.

"Highly Recommended."
Educational Media Reviews Online

"An eloquent commentary on the current state of affairs for the people of Afghanistan, women in particular...Many of the problems of the return to competitive warlord control rather than a centralized government are clearly articulated in the film. Highly Recommended."
Mary Laskowski, Univ. of Illinois, Urbana for Library Journal

"Return to Kandahar enables a Western audience to access the streets of Afghanistan, thanks to Pazira's sa

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Return to Kandahar web site

Awards and Festivals
Best of the Festival, Columbus International Film & Video Festival
Best Social/Political Documentary, The Gemini Awards (Canadian Emmy)
Best International Documentary, Wine Country Film Festival
Best International Documentary Feature, Bare Bones International Film Festival
Nominated for Best Short Documentary, Syracuse International Film & Video Festival
Hot Docs, Toronto
Locarno International Film Festival
Newport Beach Film Festival
Tiburon International Film Festival
MountainFilm, Telluride
Cinema Paradise (Hawai'i) Film Festival
Pusan (Korea) International Film Festival
Leeds International Film Festival
Silver Lake Film Festival
Foyle (Ireland) Film Festival
Annapolis Film Festival
Milwaukee International Film Festival
Big Sky Documentary Film Festival
Freedom Cinema Festival
Santa Fe Film Festival
Istanbul International Film Festival
Vermont International Film Festival
Our Island, Our World Film Festival, Salt Spring Island, Canada
National Women's Studies Association 2007 Film/Video Series

Asian Studies
Conflict Resolution
Developing World
Foreign Policy

Global Issues
Human Rights
Islamic Studies
Middle Eastern Studies
Multicultural Studies
Social Justice
War and Peace
Women's Studies

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vvy and dexterity within her country."
Al Jadid Magazine

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