Franceschini: Italy is close to the Afghan people to protect the creative freedom of artists.
The Afghan filmmaker Sahraa Karimi, author last August 13 of an open letter to the international film community ("I write to you with a broken heart and with the deep hope that you can join me in protecting my beautiful people, especially the filmmakers, from the Taliban»), takes on the role of Visiting Professor for the academic year 2021/2022 at the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia - Scuola Nazionale di Cinema.
Karimi is the first Afghan woman to have obtained a PhD in cinema (at the University of Bratislava) and to have led – until her escape – the Afghan Film Organization, she will hold an interdisciplinary course of innovative storytelling in English, which also includes the mentorship of some of the students' works.
"The Italian cultural world has long been close to the Afghan people – said the Minister of Culture, Dario Franceschini on the eve of the extraordinary G20 about Afghanistan and promoted by President Draghi – over the years we have launched many projects that support and promote the arts of this country so rich in culture. In this difficult phase, we do not want and cannot fail to pay our attention and our concrete support to the women and men of Afghan culture. Italy appeals to the international community for the protection of Afghan cultural heritage and to ensure the creative freedom of artists. The important collaboration between the Cinematography Experimental Center and the director Sahraa Karimi – underlined Franceschini – goes in this direction and is consistent with Italy's commitment, also taken by promoting the first G20 culture in history which, in its concluding document, commits the G20 governments to lay the foundations so that all cultural actors, artists and creatives can work in a free environment, inclusive and safe, preventing all forms of professional and artistic discrimination."
"In the dramatic days of August – says Marta Donzelli, President of the Fondazione Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia – the appeal of Sahraa Karimi struck me very much. Sahraa is not only a very talented artist, but a woman of extraordinary courage who has dedicated her last few years to the development of free cinema in her country, to the support of young artists and to women's rights. After being able to get her contact, thanks to Alberto Barbera and the Venice Film Festival (who in 2019 invited her to the “Orizzonti” section with her film Hava, Maryam, Ayesha), when she was already safe in Kiev, I wrote to her to tell her that we would have liked to invite her as a visiting professor in Rome. The fact that he accepted our proposal filled me with joy, a little light in the dark. The presence of Sahraa Karimi at the CSC – National School of Cinema allows us to expand the educational offer in a key of internationalization. This is a huge opportunity for the girls and boys of our school. A school that we imagine is increasingly inclusive and open to new languages and a plurality of cultures".
Sahraa Karimi explains: "I believe that teaching in one of the best European film schools, the Cinematography Experimental Center, is not only a great opportunity for a director like me, but also an honor. Exchange my experiences, which come from a completely different cultural and social background, with those of girls and boys who now begin the journey that will lead them tomorrow to be directors, to discover and test in these students a talent of which they are not yet fully aware, or that they have not yet had the opportunity to fully exploit. For me, moreover, this teaching opportunity is a journey of healing to survive the trauma that my country and I have gone through in recent months."
Sahraa Karimi is an Afghan filmmaker who lived and studied in Iran until the age of 16. At the age of 14 she entered the world of cinema playing the film Daughters of the Sun by Maryam Shahriar. After her second experience as an actress, in Hamid Jebali's White Sleep, she began to take a deeper interest in cinema. At the age of 17 Karimi emigrated to Slovakia, where she trained at the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava, until she obtained – the first Afghan woman – a PhD in cinema. During her studies she made over 30 short films. Later she directed the documentaries Afghan Women Behind the Wheel, awarded in numerous international festivals and broadcast by Arte France and BBC; Parlika – A Woman in the Land of Men. Her debut feature film, Hava, Maryam, Ayesha, one of the first independent films of Afghan cinema, participates in competition in the “Orizzonti” section at the 76th Venice Film Festival, it is awarded at the Los Angeles Asian Film Festival and the Dhaka International Film Festival, and is chosen by Afghanistan as a candidate for the Oscar race. In 2019 Karimi is also the first woman in the history of Afghanistan appointed Director of the Afghan Film Organization