Children of the Taliban
Commissioned by Channel 4
“Seeing the situation in Afghanistan through the eyes of young people lifts the film beyond what we think we know and forces us to confront just how profoundly situations shape young lives. It’s a beautiful portrayal of children on the cusp of adulthood, with depth, insight, and humanity. A strong film – one of the strongest I’ve seen.”
-Sony Impact Award Jury
This documentary tells the story of four young children living in Kabul, focusing on two boys and two girls whose lives have changed dramatically since U.S. troops completed their withdrawal from the country last summer and the Taliban swept to power.
The girls, Shoukria and Arezo, have both lost their fathers, and now have to work to support their mothers and siblings. They are amongst the hundreds of thousands of children in Afghanistan who have been forced to do so.
The boys, Abdullah and Eshahnullah, are the sons of high ranking Taliban members. Access to children of the Taliban is rare, and this film captures moments of the boys chatting, playing and opening up on camera.
The events of the past year have meant all four children have had to grow up very quickly, and whilst this documentary shows how different their lives are, we also discover that the boys and girls have many things in common. Through their eyes, we get a glimpse into the heart and soul of Afghanistan and an understanding of the challenges the future holds – not only for the children in the film, but for the country.
Jordan Bryon, a transgender filmmaker from rural Australia, is a recipient of two BAFTAs, three Emmys, a PRIX, and a Human Rights Press Award. His debut feature, Birds of the Borderlands delved into the lives of queer Arabs in Jordan and Lebanon, and resulted in his deportation from both nations. Thereafter, Jordan moved to Afghanistan for a six-year journey making films that showcase the country’s complex tapestry.
During the Taliban’s takeover in August 2021, Jordan remained in Kabul and embedded with a Taliban unit to make The Martyrs Were Lucky (The New York Times), a psychological portrait of a despondent young fighter. Concurrently, he co-helmed Transition, a critically acclaimed and deeply personal film juxtaposing his own gender transition with Afghanistan’s transition under the Taliban. The film screened at prestigious festivals including IDFA, Tribeca and Sheffield.
Marcel Mettelsiefen is a multi-award-winning documentary filmmaker, cinematographer and
producer. Among others, Marcel has won four BAFTA and three Emmy awards and was nominated for an Oscar in 2017 for Watani – My Home in the Best Documentary Short category.
Marcel has evolved from a war zone photojournalist to become one of the preeminent contemporary documentary filmmakers working today. His latest feature documentary, In Her Hands premiered to great acclaim on the opening weekend of the Toronto Film Festival 2022 and was sold to Netflix. His work is characterised by an outstanding cinematic look and great emotional intimacy alongside rigorous journalism.