What We Left Unfinished is the result of filmmaker Mariam Ghani's rummage in Afghanistan's national film archive, where she discovered unfinished films from the country's communist era (1978-91). These are films that have survived censorship by the communist regime, civil war, the Taliban, and the US invasion – but whose makers were dispersed along the way, never to complete what they started.
Despite having limited resources and being threatened with arrest or even death, many filmmakers carried on creating subversive films in this era. In her new documentary, Ghani brings together five features that were shot but never edited. She compares the archive with present-day reality, and explores the impact of war, censorship and political change on art.
Giving an insight into histories left untold, What We Left Unfinished will go down well with anyone who enjoyed last year's Shirkers – another documentary patched together with footage from something incomplete, reflecting on what could have been onscreen. It's part of Doc/Fest's strand of 'films about film' – documentaries that play with the very nature of film, filmmaker, audience and subject.
This film is one of our Doc/Fest 2019 picks.
- Words by
- Kathryn Hall
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- Doc/Fest picks