Film Review: Afghan tale of three troubled pregnancies fails to deliver

Director Sahraa Karimi profiles the lives of three young Afghan women. (Supplied)
Updated 16 September 2019

Film Review: Afghan tale of three troubled pregnancies fails to deliver

VENICE: Dubbed Afghanistan’s first female director, Sahraa Karimi grew up in Iran with her refugee parents, and later studied cinema in Slovakia.

With 30 shorts and a couple of documentaries under her belt, she travelled this year to the Venice Film Festival with her debut fiction feature, “Hava, Maryam, Ayesha.”

Studying and making movies in Europe was not her scene. “Somehow, from a storytelling perspective, I don’t belong to that part of the world,” she said, recalling her days in Slovakia. “I belong to Afghanistan.”

She returned to Kabul to shoot “Hava, Maryam, Ayesha,” which was produced by Katayoon Shahabi of Noori Pictures that once helped introduce Iranian directors such as Asghar Farhadi and Mohammad Rasoulof to the world.

In her film, Karimi profiles the lives of three young Afghan women, linked only by problems with the men in their lives.

Hava’s (Arezoo Ariapoor) husband is callous to the point of being cruel, and her only comfort is talking to the baby in her womb. But when it stops kicking, she panics.

Maryam (Fereshta Afshar) is a popular television news reporter who wants to divorce her philandering husband. However, he insists on giving their marriage one more chance, and Maryam finds out she is pregnant.

Another expectant mother, 18-year-old Ayesha (Hasiba Ebrahimi), comes from a middleclass family but is left with no choice but to marry her cousin after being dumped by her cowardly boyfriend.

The three stories, while seemingly interesting, fail to engage because there is hardly any dramatic curve in them.

Possibly the only high point about the movie was Karimi’s relaying of the real-life tales she drew from women during her travels as a UNICEF representative. The experience was cathartic for many.

“Women don’t share their secret lives with their families or their communities, because they’re scared of rumors and gossip,” said Karimi. But with the female director, they felt comfortable and began to speak “about their suffering, wishes, and dreams.”

The more difficult part for Karimi was the shoot itself. The crew had to film under trying conditions with at least four bombs exploding in and around Kabul. But she labored on.

This probably prevented her from getting better technical results from an interesting concept, but the film could still have been pepped up with livelier storytelling.


Chiara Ferragni soaks up the sun in Oman

Ferragni took to Instagram to share snaps from her sunny holiday in Oman this week. (AFP)
Updated 15 October 2019

Chiara Ferragni soaks up the sun in Oman

DUBAI: Italian fashion blogger and entrepreneur Chiara Ferragni took to Instagram to share snaps from her sunny holiday in Oman this week, giving her followers a good dose of travel inspiration in the process.

The influencer shared a selection of shots, including a visit to Muscat’s Grand Mosque — she covered her head with a black scarf while inside the mosque — a snap in which she can be seen smiling in front of a wall of pink bougainvillea and photographs taken in the 5-star resort where she is staying with her family.

Ferragni is staying at the swanky Alila Jabal Akhdar hotel along with her husband — Italian rapper Federico Leonardo Lucia, known by his stage name Fedez — and baby son, Leone.

The family is in town to celebrate Lucia’s birthday and Ferragni didn’t let the day go by without posting a sweet message on Instagram.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Happy 30th raviolito @fedez

A post shared by Chiara Ferragni (@chiaraferragni) on

“Happiest 30th birthday to my person, my soul mate and my best friend @fedez. I’m so proud of you, our relationship and everything we’ve built together in only three years. Thanks for making me the happiest mama and wife. Thanks for making my dreams come true. Thanks for understanding who I am and always support(ing) me. When I look at you, I can only think ‘he’s my person, I couldn’t have anybody else that makes me feel this way.’ You’re family and you’re home and you make me proud everyday,” she posted next to a photograph of the couple in Oman.

Having nabbed the number one spot on Forbes’ “Top Fashion Influencers” list in 2017, Ferragni is one of the world’s most recognizable social media stars and even launched her own namesake line, Chiara Ferragni Collection, in 2013. Since then, she has expanded into apparel, accessories and children’s clothing and reported revenues of $20 million in 2016, according to the Business of Fashion website.

Ferragni launched her blog, The Blonde Salad, in 2009 while attending Milan’s Bocconi University for a degree in law and went on to collaborate with an impressive clutch of design houses, including Dior, Louis Vuitton, Ermenegildo Zegna, Benetton and Mango.