Official Selection, 2019 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival
The population of Kandahar, Afghanistan currently hovers around 557,118 people. The population of Kandahar, Saskatchewan, Canada? About 20—and that’s if you count the Jamal family. Writer-director Aisha Jamal’s feature-length documentary debut begins with her father, Abdul Bari Jamal, an Afghan-Canadian refugee yearning for the memories of a land and life that he, his wife, and his five children were violently torn from nearly thirty years ago. When Abdul Bari discovers that a tiny town on the quiet Canadian prairies has the same name, he does what any other diasporic refugee father would do: he purchases a plot of land for each member of the family to develop as they wish. The urbanite family (roller bags in tow) boards a three hour flight from Toronto to inspect their new landholdings and explore the ideological, political, and familial tensions between the two places that share the name Kandahar.
A KANDAHAR AWAY reveals the multiple and conflicting experiences of Afghan Canadian identity within a single family. In the political context of Canada’s significant involvement in the long-waged American war in Afghanistan, questions of home, identity, and patriotism are fraught with contradictions. Jamal’s filmmaking gaze is unflinching as she interviews and films family members, even in the instances she turns the camera on herself. At its core, A KANDAHAR AWAY is a story of a family whose love, though complicated and painful at times, transcends the frigid prairies of Saskatchewan and the pain of a lost life in Afghanistan to warm our hearts and minds.