View From a Grain of Sand: A film about Afghan Women

View From A Grain of Sand reveals how Afghani women have had their rights stripped from them over the last 25 years – and their ongoing battle to (re)gain the most basic human rights. Nanji shot the film over a period of three years in the sprawling refugee camps of northwestern Pakistan and in the war-torn city of Kabul. Through a two-year long process of editing, additional shooting and archival research, she worked to locate the personal stories of the women she met within the larger context of international interference and war in the Middle East and the rise of religious fundamentalists in Afghanistan. Going beyond the surface of sensational news to explore the mechanisms of oppression, View from A Grain of Sand is political documentary at its best.

The main characters whose lives are depicted in View From A Grain of Sand are Wajeeha, Roeena and Shapire. Born in the rural province of Farah, Afghanistan, Wajeeha was, like her sisters, prevented from attending school. When the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, she fled to Iran, where she met her husband – a resistance fighter who was eventually killed in a Soviet ambush in the late 1980s, as Wajeeha was expecting her youngest son. Traveling to Pakistan, she stumbled on a demonstration by the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) and decided to join them. They taught her how to read and write, and she is now teaching literacy courses to other women, raising awareness and struggling to make women’s rights a reality in Afghanistan.

Roeena was raised in Kabul and worked as a doctor there for three years before fleeing to Pakistan with her family in 1994 after her younger brother was killed by a random rocket attack. She has since worked for the International Medical Corps, aiding thousands in refugee camps. Shapire fled the Taliban in 1998 with her husband and five young children. As a young girl in Afghanistan, she had aspired to be a pilot or a journalist, but her ambitions were thwarted by her arranged marriage at the age of sixteen. Now she works as a teacher in a girls’ school founded by refugees in Pakistan.

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