[FOUNTAIN]Film depicts Afghans' misery

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[FOUNTAIN]Film depicts Afghans' misery

Kandahar, the second largest city of Afghanistan, was founded by Alexander the Great in the 4th century B.C. After conquering Persia in his expedition to the east, Alexander continued his march into what is now Afghanistan. He called the first city that he met in the region Herat, which means Alexandria of the Aryans. He founded a new city to the south of Herat, called Kandahar, which means Alexander in Pashtun.

Kandahar is a mountainous city at 1,000 meters above sea level. It is strategically located on east-west trade routes, and was often the scene of wars and insurrections. It was conquered successively by the Arabs, the Turkic Ghaznavid dynasty, Genghis Khan, the Mughal empire of India and Britain. The city was once the capital of Afghanistan, and during the Soviet military occupation of the 1980s, Kandahar was the site of a Soviet command. It became the base of the Taliban regime when Mullah Mohammed Omar seized the city. Now the Taliban has surrendered Kandahar, which is waiting for another new regime.

"Kandahar" is also the title of a movie directed by an Iranian, Mohsen Makhmalbaf. Its premiere showing was at this year's Cannes Film Festival, and it was also screened at the Pusan International Film Festival this year. The film shows the wretched spectacle of Afghanistan, stained with aggression and civil wars, in the form of a documentary.

Clearly showing how Afghans were suffering from starvation, mines and the tyranny of the Taliban regime, the director said that he intended to remind the world of its ignorance and indifference about Afghanistan.

Recently released in Britain after showings in Italy and France, the movie is sold out at every screening, overseas reports say.

The "sold out" signs are routinely seen in London, and persons who have put their names on a waiting list stand outside the movie theater in a long queue. Should the director thank Osama bin Laden, since the movie would have drawn only a limited audience in ordinary times but now is such a commercial success?

Mr. Makhmalbaf metaphorically said in an article published before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, "The Buddha statues of Bamiyan were not demolished by anybody; they fell out of shame - out of shame for the world's ignorance about Afghanistan." He said that the world condemned the Taliban regime's vandalism of the statues but overlooked the hourly deaths of 14 Afghans from hunger and war. Now is the time to pay attention to the misery of the Afghans.

The writer is international news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Bae Myung-bok

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