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What We Left Unfinished

Directed by Mariam Ghani

Run Time: 72 mins 
Released: USA/Afghanistan/Qatar, 2019 
Language: Dari and English with subtitles

Director Mariam Ghani’s documentary, What We Left Unfinished, captures just that — five unfinished films from Afghanistan’s communist era, which took place between 1978 and 1992. Ghani, through the splicing and piecing together of these films, attempts to highlight the ways in which art and politics interacted during this period of time in the country. The film provides an immersive experience into each of these pieces, allowing viewers to analyze the ways film can function as an artifact rather than a fully-formed ideological entity. What We Left Unfinished brings to light the dedication of filmmakers to their craft in a time when ideas and creative freedom underwent an extensive level of scrutiny and control.

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[What We Left Unfinished] is imbued with a bittersweetness bordering on nostalgia for this tarnished ‘golden age’ of Afghan film when new features were cranked out at an unprecedented rate, giving impetus to a cinema-going culture not only in the capital of Kabul but in the provinces as well.”

— William Repass, Slant Magazine

Mariam Ghani

Mariam Ghani, an Afghan-American writer, artist, and filmmaker, was born in New York City, NY and grew up in Maryland, earning degrees from New York University and Manhattan’s School of Visual Arts. Ghani’s work focuses on spaces in which social, cultural, and political structures and forces engage and take on visible configurations. Her films have been screened at locations across the world, including Berlinale, Rotterdam, CPH:DOX, DOC NYC, Sheffield Doc/Fest, SFFILM, Ann Arbor, FIDBA, and Il Cinema Ritrovato, among others. Her work has reached just as far, shown in numerous museums and galleries, including the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., the Guggenheim, the CCCB in Barcelona, and the Dhaka Art Summit. Much of Ghani’s work has involved analyzing extended periods of time and working with the national archive of Afghan films. What We Left Unfinished is Ghani’s first feature film and it premiered at the 2019 Berlinale before hitting US theaters in the summer of 2021. She is currently working on her second feature, Dis-Ease.

Awards

 

  • Winner of Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival Critics Choice Award

  • Winner of Toronto Reel Asian Film Festival Speaking Truth to Power Award

  • Nominee for Nashville Film Festival Grand Jury Prize

  • Nominee for Sheffield International Documentary New Talent Award 

  • Official Selection for the Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinare) 

  • Official Selection for Nashville Film Festival 

  • Official Selection for Il Cinema ritrovato 

  • Official Selection for SFFILM Festival 

  • Official Selection DOC NYC

  • Official Selection for the Heartland International Film Festival

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Screening Soon!

Time:  February 16, 2023 @ 6PM EDT
Location:  McConomy Auditorium

Event includes Q&A with director Mariam Ghani moderated by Visiting Research Faculty in Afghan Cinema and Theatre Habib Sorosh

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Sponsors

Co-presented with CMU’s Center for Arts in Society
Co-Sponsored by CMU’s School of Art, The CMU Humanities Center, and The CMU Humanitites Scholar Program

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