‘Three Songs for Benazir,’ a brief documentary, is nominated for an Oscar : NPR

3 Tunes for Benazir requires place in a refugee camp in Kabul, Afghanistan. The movie, nominated for an Academy Award, is directed by Elizabeth and Gulistan Mirzaei.


The documentary generally known as “3 Tracks For Benazir” opens with a shot of the sky. An enormous white blimp, a U.S. navy surveillance balloon, floats massive over a sprawling camp in Kabul, Afghanistan. It displays a whole bunch of Afghans now internally displaced due to the battle of their place.

ELIZABETH MIRZAEI: There was a great deal of households there – you understand, numerous hundred number of makeshift properties designed of mud and tents. And every 12 months we watched it develop larger and greater as further and rather more women and men have been displaced by the battle. There isn’t a functioning h2o. There’s definitely no power. People are dwelling in genuinely dire circumstances. However there’s additionally – we noticed there’s recognize within the camp, similar to wherever else.

MARTIN: That’s the voice of filmmaker Elizabeth Mirzaei. She and her husband Gulistan frequented the camp once they lived in Kabul. Gulistan, who himself fled battle in the course of the Soviet army’s invasion of Afghanistan, found a novel relationship with a younger married couple within the camp named Shaista and Benazir.

GULISTAN MIRZAEI: There’s something so gorgeous within the romance between Shaista and Benazir, something I skilled by no means witnessed on a film from my nation previous to. A narrative about my nation, normally about battle, violence. I wish to inform a like story and current one thing people have by no means witnessed from my nation simply earlier than.

MARTIN: Gulistan and Elizabeth Mirzaei’s film “3 Music For Benazir” is nominated for an Academy Award.


SHAISTA: (Singing in Pashto).

BENAZIR: (Laughter). (Talking Pashto).

MARTIN: The opening scene is so attractive and so private. Are you able to clarify it, Elizabeth?

E MIRZAEI: Properly, we basically opened with the steadiness balloon within the sky, after which it goes into – driving the partitions of Shaista’s residence with Benazir. And Shaista is serenading Benazir with a very like music. I’m mainly undecided if he constructed it up.

MARTIN: (Laughter).

E MIRZAEI: However it may be a lovely music in Pashto. And it truly is nearly, you understand, how significantly he adores his spouse. However we filmed it not mainly understanding what he was expressing since Gulistan and I each communicate Dari, however we do not talk about significantly Pashto. And so more often than not Shais and Benazir would speak to an extra in Pashto. So we realized that even with no understanding the which implies, we felt there was one factor gorgeous about this second. It was simply the best of points.

MARTIN: Allow us to chat about that safety balloon. It truly is described a pair completely different events. At only one stage, Shaista clarifies it to Benazir. She’s like, what’s that issue? And, I recommend, you might not have seem up with one thing rather more poignant, proper? It’s the Folks in search of down, inspecting each inch of their home.

E MIRZAEI: Yeah. The balloon was fairly considerably, I expertise, within the sky on a regular basis. There was solely, I contemplate, two situations I can attempt to bear in mind once I noticed one of many balloons, simply this gigantic merchandise, grounded. And it was genuinely simply unsettling to see it that close to up. Within the camp, it’s mainly hovering correct increased than Shaista’s family. And for us, it really represented and symbolized the disconnect that exists within the battle in Afghanistan and, I might say, in most wars as correctly, that there’s this, you understand, overseas, extraordinarily revolutionary technological contraption within the sky, this chilly product, you understand, disconnected, impersonal, monitoring all of the issues. And it touched on the idea of in search of vs . basically viewing and the way that balloon with its quite a lot of tools registers Shaista and Benazir simply number of as fragments or, you understand, blips on a radar, after which with the digicam bringing you instead additional than that, into this family with this youthful couple who’re in love.

MARTIN: Final August, Gulistan, what was it like for you trying on the U.S. evacuate, the chaos of that, the Taliban arrive in and simply take regulate?

E MIRZAEI: You possibly can converse in – if you wish to talk in English or Dari, whichever you might be much more cosy.

G MIRZAEI: (Speaking Dari).

E MIRZAEI: Gulistan claims, “it was one specific of the darkest and most bitter days of my way of life. I could not consider that my nation may drop apart so instantly and that 20 a number of years of assist from all the world would simply get lit on hearth like that.”

G MIRZAEI: (Talking Dari).

MARTIN: What has occurred to Benazir and Shaista?

G MIRZAEI: (Speaking Dari).

E MIRZAEI: Gulistan states, “they’re in Afghanistan, and we’re sending them help. And as you understand, the situation could be very, fairly actually exhausting in Afghanistan correct now. Folks right this moment are dwelling with out having any jobs. And it truly is like they’re type of trapped in a cage, and people are but once more making an attempt to go away the nation.”

G MIRZAEI: (Speaking Dari).

MARTIN: The film has been nominated for an Oscar for only documentary within the restricted matter classification. Is it executing what you wanted it to do in circumstances of telling of us open air of Afghanistan what existence is like there?

E MIRZAEI: Completely, I contemplate, a single, it’s actually been fantastic for the movie to be nominated for an Oscar. You already know, we begun this, like, with no notion that may, you understand, ever happen. It feels significantly important, you understand, right now to have this simply take really be on the entrance of audiences’ working expertise given that the earth proper now’s contending with so fairly a number of – you understand, a number of wars, and yow will discover a number of breakdowns in individuals’s capability to empathize with the, quote-unquote, “different.”


E MIRZAEI: And I consider that’s one thing that Gulistan and I can each of these speak to primarily as a result of in our marriage, we embody this one in all a form downside the place on the 1 aspect, Gulistan is Afghan, and we are able to see what is definitely occurring in Afghanistan appropriate now. And on the opposite aspect, I’m Ukrainian and what’s taking place in Ukraine. And so we simply contemplate that is not an incident, that this movie is a rationale for us to speak about how we are able to appear at individuals right this moment who’re othered as however in a method that, you understand, battle safety of bombs and all the pieces else that’s going down within the data entrance, which is genuinely vital and required – but it surely really is – that is facet of a varied extended-term take a look at.

MARTIN: My God, Elizabeth, I didn’t know you occur to be Ukrainian.

E MIRZAEI: Yeah. I by no means have any partner and kids there any longer. However, sure, that’s my observe report.

MARTIN: It really is quite a bit for each of these of you to soak up then, observing all these ancestral residences regulate on this method.


MARTIN: Correctly, we so acknowledge you every talking to us. Elizabeth and Gulistan Mirzaei, thanks so considerably.

E MIRZAEI: Thanks, Rachel.

G MIRZAEI: Thanks so considerably, Rachel, for conversing with us.

MARTIN: The movie is recognized as “Three Tracks For Benazir.” It’s nominated for an Academy Award for finest documentary within the shorter problem group.


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