'I was lucky,' says Afghan filmmaker Shahrbanoo Sadat on fleeing Kabul

'I was lucky,' says Afghan filmmaker Shahrbanoo Sadat on fleeing Kabul

Not everyone speaks English, they aren't filmmakers, they don’t have international friends, their lives are in danger, she said.
28 Aug, 2021

Hours before the Taliban took control of Kabul, filmmaker Shahrbanoo Sadat received an offer to leave Afghanistan. She declined, as it would mean leaving family members behind. The next day she went to the bank.

“(Suddenly) we saw Taliban cars with white flags ... and ... we’re running,” Sadat told Reuters in an interview. “And that was for me like a moment of a movie that couldn’t be real because I was in the middle of Kabul.”

Accompanied by nine family members, Sadat, whose first feature film Wolf and Sheep won the main prize at Cannes festival Directors’ Fortnight section in 2016, eventually headed for Kabul airport. They arrived in Paris earlier this week.

“I was lucky but this is not the situation for many people,” she said, referring to the crowds stranded at the airport. “They do not speak English, they are not a filmmaker, they don’t have any international friends and their life is in danger.”

Sadat said it took 72 hours from her leaving her apartment to reaching French troops at Kabul airport, where she spent a night at their compound before flying to Abu Dhabi.

She described chaotic scenes while queuing outside the airport.

“(The Taliban) wanted to (make people queue) which was impossible because the crowd was pushing from all directions and Taliban were walking with cables and with guns and with even with (an) RPG,” she said.

“Children were crying and the old people were fainting ... because it was so hot.” Overwhelmed by the heat and slow pace, Sadat said she nearly gave up queuing but was encouraged to keep going by her sister.

Sadat said she saw men, including her father, singled out amid rumours of attacks.

“(A Taliban member) wanted to take him out and I threw myself on my father and he hit me with the cable that he had on my back ... they were so aggressive with men but they didn’t really touch the women,” she said. “He let us go.”

Kabul airport has been thronged with Afghans trying to board evacuation flights following the Taliban’s takeover, fearing reprisals and a return to a harsh version of Islamic law the group practised when it was last in power.

Dozens were killed in an Islamic State suicide attack on Thursday.

The Taliban has sought to assure the crowds at Kabul airport that they have nothing to fear and should go home.

Sadat, who was born in Iran and moved to Afghanistan in December 2001, was working on a romantic comedy before fleeing.

“I have all kind of mixed feelings ... I don’t understand all this. Everything was so sudden and so quick,” Sadat, whose films depict ordinary life, said.

“I want to continue making films but perhaps my point of view is changed ... The political thing displaced me so I cannot ignore it anymore because I am hurt by that.”


Zak Aug 28, 2021 10:53am
Trying to make a gruesome story when really there was none. Taliban tried to bring order to the chaotic que and even let her and her father go. She should be thankful, instead of making up stories.
Chrís Dăn Aug 28, 2021 11:03am
I am glad to hear Sadat is out. She is a very talented film maker and an asset for the world of serious art.
Sara Aug 28, 2021 11:09am
Hamed Aug 28, 2021 12:04pm
@Zak this is a cheap way to get publicity!
M. Saeed Aug 28, 2021 12:11pm
All is well, that ends well. All stages in between, are part of life you get.
dija Aug 28, 2021 12:49pm
@Zak VERY TRUE!people are trying to create a drama for maligning and gaining undue sympathies rather than being thankful for a good treatment!
A. ALI Aug 28, 2021 01:31pm
Typical ... standard pack of lies, western world will spread all sorts of anti Taliban fabricated stories. What's different with her experience she suffered at the hands of Talibans and USA forces? She ran out of her will. USA has promised millions to settle them in Europe and USA. So peiple are making stories to stay accrued and get nationalities.
A. ALI Aug 28, 2021 01:32pm
Singer USA and Europe will repatriate all these run away Afghans back in Afghanistan, so they should think twice before what'd they say.
SwiftRetort Aug 28, 2021 01:34pm
@Chrís Dăn what asset?
A. ALI Aug 28, 2021 01:35pm
She is a living proof no Taliban hurt her. At least this equation is out where India, USA and our own certain media houses are crying that women and children are not safe in Afg. Rest is her drama to get a nationality.
oldhabibian Aug 28, 2021 02:32pm
Her film making career is safe. for the next ten years, they will make movies about Afghanistan, where the US won. Remember Rambo! It had a Vietam and Afghanistan version.
Humza Aug 28, 2021 06:08pm
Sounds like she wants attention and wants to live the life of a refugee in the West like most Afghans. They will make up any excise to run away from that country.
Kazi Mahiuddin Ansar Aug 28, 2021 06:49pm
@Chrís Dăn Hey, life is only one and it's no Art dear but we have to die one day.
Ravi vancouver Aug 28, 2021 10:55pm
She escaped uncertainities under taliban rule. Good for her, I wish good luck to Afghans under taliban hopefully old taliban rule is not repeated.
LgbtqX Aug 30, 2021 04:31am
We should have evacuated the whole Afghan.