`Kandahar' goes inside repressive Afghanistan


February 08, 2002|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,SUN MOVIE CRITIC

Qayum Karzai, a Baltimore restaurateur and brother of Afghanistan's new prime minister, will introduce this week's offering at Cinema Sundays at the Charles and lead a post-show discussion.

Kandahar, by Iranian director Mohsen Makhmalbaf, is a semi-autobiographical film based on the real experiences of the actress playing the lead character.

In the film, a Canadian reporter named Nafas journeys back to her homeland to try to rescue her sister, who had been accidentally left behind by the family and is contemplating suicide.

In real life, Niloufar Pazira was worried about a friend living under the brutal conditions dictated by the Taliban, and contacted Makhmalbaf to see if he could get her into the country. (One of his previous films, The Cyclist, had dealt sympathetically with the fate of Afghan refugees in Iran).

The director had no luck getting Pazira into Afghanistan, but he made a film based on her plight - and cast her in the lead.

Events in Afghanistan since Sept. 11 have turned Kandahar into something of a phenomenon, but its notoriety doesn't stop there. Law enforcement officials claim that an actor listed in the film as Hassan Tantai really is an American wanted for a political slaying. David Belfield has been accused of the 1980 assassination in Montgomery County of a leading critic of the Iranian regime.

Showtime for Kandahar, winner of the Jury Prize at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival, is 10:30 a.m. Sunday, with the theater's doors opening at 9:45. The admission price of $15 includes coffee and bagels. Information: 410-727-3464 or www.cinemasundays.com.

Oscar Night party

You can celebrate Tuesday's announcement of this year's Oscar nominees at the American Visionary Art Museum.

Tuesday's free event begins at 6:30 p.m. when organizers of Oscar Night Baltimore will outline plans for the black-tie party, which is sanctioned by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. That discussion will be followed by a women's fashion show featuring items from Octavia in Pikesville.

Oscar Night Baltimore will be held from 8 p.m. to midnight March 24 at the Redwood Trust, 200 E. Redwood St. Proceeds will benefit AIDS Interfaith Residential Services (AIRS), which provides housing and support services to people living with AIDS. Tickets cost $50. For information, call 410-576-5070 Ext. 10.

Free `Flight'

Flight of the Navigator, the story of a 12-year-old who travels through time on an alien spaceship, will be screened for free tomorrow at the Creative Alliance, 413 S. Conkling St. in Highlandtown. Showtime is 3 p.m. Call 410-276-1651.

Streep speaks

Actress Meryl Streep will talk about her life and career at 7 p.m. Feb. 18 at Washington's Lisner Auditorium, 730 21st St. N.W.

Streep, an 11-time Oscar nominee and two-time winner, will be interviewed by Michael Kahn, director of Washington's Shakespeare Theater. Tickets cost $25.

Information: 202-357-3030 or www.smithsonianassociates.org.

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