Kandahar: The Movie: A Gorgeous Journey Through Hell

In 1998 an Afghan-reared Canadian journalist named Nelofer Pazira attempted to slip across the Iranian border into her native land. She was trying to reach the city of Kandahar before an old school friend, depressed by the rigors of Taliban repression, made good on a suicide threat.

This much of Iranian director Mohsen Makhmalbaf's lovely and terrifying movie Kandahar is true. Indeed, Pazira, 28, plays Nafas, the character she inspired--though in the film it is a sister, not a friend, she seeks to save--and the year is 1999, just before the millennium new year. In real life, Pazira only briefly penetrated...

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