The Taliban have just seized power and a widow reluctantly decides to disguise her 12-year-old daughter as a boy - the Osama of the title - so that at least one family member can earn a living. But the 'boy' is soon dragged off for religious instruction and military training and resultantly the disguise is uncovered, triggering a sharp slide into tragedy. Made with the support of Iranian director Mohsen Makhmalbaf (who has been active in providing resources for Afghan filmmakers) and shot on 35mm in Kabul with a cast made up entirely of non-professionals, Osama is the first feature to emerge from post-Taliban Afghanistan, a country which has produced less than 40 full-length films and shorts in the past century. Written, directed and edited by Siddiq Barmak, the tone of this strikingly realised film is necessarily direct, accessible and unflinching. As such it is a remarkable snapshot of a particular moment in contemporary world history. A Cannes sensation, where it carried off the Golden Camera award, Osama also triumphed at the Golden Globes in the Best Foreign Language Film category.
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