3/18/2010 on HBO
: Havana Marking
Cinematographer: Phil Stebbing
Studio/Run Time: Zeitgeist Films, 88 mins.
Star shines attention on Afghanistan’s modernization
You don’t have to be a fan of American Idol and its brethren in Westernized societies to get into Afghan Star, the documentary that chronicles the third season of Afghanistan’s revolutionary singing competition. Star is the country’s first televised talent competition, and its broadcast was made possible due to the end of Taliban rule, as well as the lifting of a ban on music and dancing in 2004.
The final contestants—two of whom are women—come from different regions and ethnic groups. With good reason, the TV show’s drama is merely glanced upon. It instead becomes a microcosm for the country’s complex divisions. Background footage depicts a country still needing reconstruction, while in the forefront the clash between Islamic law and modernization is apparent from the open threats faced by the show’s female contestants. The real star of this documentary is the unifying potential of pop music.