Seeing Afghanistan with New Eyes: Love Marriage in Kabul

The promotional poster for Amin Palangi’s 2014 documentary Love Marriage in Kabul is simple yet arresting. A close-up of a woman’s eye, decorated with thick sweeps of silver, pink and bronze eye shadow – a look typically sported by Afghan brides – dominates the frame; her eye is closed, perhaps weighed down by her heavy make-up. But Fatemeh, the young woman whose eye adorns the poster, is someone we don’t hear a lot from in the documentary. As Palangi notes in a radio interview, it’s difficult to film women in Afghanistan as traditionally they’re not meant to be in front of the screen. Indeed, to many viewers, there is much about her home country that has long remained off-limits, much that has been shut off from outsiders’ vision. In its place are images that feel antithetical to the visual splendour of Fatemeh’s made-up eye: bombed villages, armoured borders, sprawling military bases…

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[First published in Metro Magazine: Media and Education Magazine, No. 184, 2015: 76-79.]