Director Abbas Rezaie debut feature documentary takes the viewer inside the office of the city’s most widely read newspaper, The Etilaat Roz. The film is a gripping firsthand account of the August 2021 takeover of Kabul by the Taliban. Afghan filmmaker and Etilaat Roz staff member Abbas Rezaie relentlessly films and questions his passionate colleagues on the editorial team in the days leading up to, during, and after the takeover as they try to decide whether to stay and continue reporting – risking torture, imprisonment and death – or join thousands of others attempting to flee the country. What begins as shock at a surreal situation gradually shifts to realization of an inescapable reality at their doorstep. Tensions rise as Rezaie’s colleagues must balance their families’ safety with their dedication to providing honest reporting, while the Taliban sets its sights on curbing the free press. This dramatic account of a group of courageous journalists in their struggle for truth, freedom and life is poignantly captured by Rezaie’s camera, fully immersing the viewer in this rapidly changing environment. We are joined by the co-director and editor-in-chief of Etilaat Roz Zaki Daryabi for a conversation on the harrowing days of dread and fear that Daryabi and his colleagues endured watching their beloved country fall under the heavy hand of the Taliban, fearing for their lives and being forced to abandon the offices and the mission of Etilaat Roz.
Winner, Best First Feature, IDFA 2022
Available to watch at your own pace, any time between June 5 and June 11, 2023, on the festival’s digital streaming platform.
Human Rights Watch Film Festival – May 31 – June 11
Director’s Statement – Our history has always been narrated from the ruler’s point of view, whereas the people who change the course of history with their resilience, bravery, and sacrifices are not shown anywhere except in the newsreels. I want to get as close to the people as possible and continue recording their lives. This time it’s a personal film, with lots of poetry and, of course, history.” – Abbas Rezaie, co-director, The Etilaat Roz
“The Etilaat Roz is a piece of history. It depicts the most heartbreaking moments of Kabul’s collapse, which make every Afghan emotional, including me. But it also demonstrates how strong our defenders of free speech are.” – Fereshta Abbasi, researcher, Asia Division, Human Rights Watch