Marwa had an opportunity to leave Afghanistan with her husband and after months in a refugee camp, she reached Europe. But her father is still in Kabul and has received threats.
Raha chose to stay behind with her family. But the situation in the country keeps worsening. In January 2023, with the assistance of Reporters sans frontières (RSF), Raha fled with her husband. She is now trying to help her family out.
Caroline Gillet has been recording documentaries for French national radio for the last 15 years. She started exchanging voice notes with Raha and Marwa in the days after the takeover of Kabul by Taliban. From podcast the project became an animation film.
Denis Walgenwitz is co-director of the animation film. He has previously worked on many productions with directors such as Ari Folman, or Marjane Satrapi.
Help Raha, Marwa and their families who have decided to leave Afghanistan where they are now under threat. Donations will help finance visas, flight tickets and all living expenses during the first months in exile. Thank you for them.
In the summer of 2021, the Taliban return to power in Afghanistan and the destinies of two young women, Raha and Marwa, tilt. Inside Kabul is based on the hundreds of voice notes they exchanged with journalist Caroline Gillet in the months that followed. Raha has chosen to stay in Kabul; she is confronted with the violence of the regime and the crisis into which the country is gradually sinking. Marwa has left and finds herself locked up in a refugee camp in Abu Dhabi, where she waits week after week to be welcomed somewhere in Europe or the United States. For them, the questions that are those of all young women of their age, are asked with a singular sharpness: how to grow up and project oneself towards the future when you are 20 years old and the world one has known is collapsing?
This film is based on rare audio documents: hundreds of voice notes exchanged over several months between two Afghan women and the French journalist Caroline Gillet. These memos were broadcast on France Inter in a chronicle format in Un jour dans le monde by Fabienne Sintès. These chronicles evolved into a 9x20 minutes podcast which was released in August 2022 on France Inter (English version to be released in August 2023). The podcast has just received the award 'Contemporary Writing' at the festival Longueur d'ondes in Brest.
In December 2021, it was decided to adapt these voice notes into an animation film. Les films du Poisson, Tchack and Ström Pictures are co-producers. Denis Walgenwitz accepted to co-direct it, Kubra Khademi, afghan artist in exile and women's rights militant in France made us the honnor to create the visual images from the podcast sounds and Luciano Lepinay adapted her drawings into animation. Marwa and Raha followed all the steps of construction and contributed from Afghanistan and Germany.
The film will be released on French National Television on March 8th, International women's rights day and will be on BBC Storyville in April.
Raha, Marwa and their families who have decided to leave Afghanistan. Donations will go to the association Latitudes Contemporaines, which will coordinate their evacuation. Donations will help finance visas, flight tickets and all living expenses during the first months in exile.
The association Latitudes Contemporaines, based in Lille (France), accompanies and supports Afghan artists. The association finances initiatives and projects that help them pursue their creative work, but also pay for day to day spendings. Your donations entitle you to a tax deduction that will be provided by ShareDoc.
Marwa and Raha’s point of view
Why did you agree to participate in this project?
When the government collapsed, we began to live in oppression and were abandoned in our homes. This project gave me a great opportunity to express myself, to become the voice of my family, of my sisters, of women like me, of my people, and I told myself that this is how I can get involved. We have to talk about what is happening, about the loss of our human rights, of our freedoms. We must commit ourselves to peace.
I felt that there was an opportunity to become a voice for others. I wanted to share my experience, what I saw, what I felt, first under the Taliban, then as a refugee, and then pass on what my friends were telling me about what was happening in Kabul. I want to speak for them, I don't want them to be forgotten. The second reason is that I felt very connected to Caroline. At that time, I had lost all hope, I didn't know what was going to happen to me. I needed to talk about it, to share the pain. It was good for me because I couldn't tell my family about my difficulties, they were already suffering enough. Caroline was there, she listened to me, answered me. That gave me hope and energy.
I felt scared and shocked after the collapse. I was not able to accept what happened to us that night. I couldn't cope with the situation, I was going crazy. I wanted to scream and go somewhere else and cry as much as I could, I wanted to talk to someone and tell them how helpless I had become.
And then Caroline came out of nowhere and asked me to record some sounds on my cell phone and tell her about my feelings and the situation in Afghanistan. At first, I was only recording sounds to feel better, to get rid of my anger, anxiety and exhaustion. Then I felt and understood that I was doing something for my country. We are responsible for our country, when something bad happens, we are responsible to do something.
I lost my freedom and everything I had. Now my arms are tied. It's so hard to be locked up at home. When there were demonstrations in the streets, I couldn't go, my sisters are very young, I didn't want to put them in danger, but otherwise I would have gone to defend my rights. This project allowed me to do what I had to do for my country. It may not be enough to help everyone, but at least I am speaking out, sharing my truth, talking about reality.
I didn't know if it would work and do miracles, but now I see that it's just the beginning. This radio show has become a podcast, then an animated film, and who knows, maybe one day we can make it into a feature film. We will make sure that the whole world knows what is happening in Kabul and Afghanistan.
Kubra Khademi, graphic designer
When Caroline Gillet suggested that I draw the story of two young women, Marwa and Raha, based on their conversations, I thought that my drawings would come from listening to their sounds, their words, and that by closing my eyes and using my imagination I would invent a visual universe. But as I listened to the noises, the sounds, the voices, I realized that it was all very real and familiar to me. Suddenly, I had the sensation of being with them and transported to Kabul. With this sound environment and through their voices, the city appeared before my eyes. I know Kabul, but their stories tell what the city has become today. So I drew from their stories, while relying on my knowledge of this city.
I really liked the way Caroline created this dialogue, it was natural and real for me. A sincere conversation between women, based on trust, which reminds me of our Afghan culture. I also liked that their conversations told of both the simple, everyday life, but also the collapse of a whole country and the consequences of this situation on their lives.
It was hopeless for me in August 2021 to watch what was happening in my country, to follow the news, to hear the stories of friends who stayed behind. How to draw this story while being faithful to the tragedy? I let myself be carried away by the strength of the sound, the voices, the documentary testimony, and the work of composition imposed itself on me in a natural way, the fluidity became like a way of breathing, a tool for drawing.
a film directed by Caroline Gillet and Denis Walgenwitz
With the collaboration of Marwa and Raha
Graphic designer Kubra Khademi
Artistic director Luciano Lepinay
Original music by Théo Boulenger
Produced by Estelle Fialon (Les Films du Poisson) and Matthieu Liégeois (TCHACK) Executive production Annie Ohayon-Dekel, Monica Hellström (Strom Pictures)