In August 2021, the world watched as Kabul fell to the Taliban. Scenes of chaos, anxiety, and fear dominated the media. IN HER HANDS follows the 19 months of lead-up to this through the eyes of Zarifa Ghafari, appointed as the youngest female mayor of Afghanistan at age 26. Her story is interwoven with those of two other key figures: her loyal bodyguard, Massoum; and an antagonist to her ideas, a commander in the Taliban army, Musafer. The varying trajectories of their lives give perspective on the complexities of the 20-year conflict in the region. Afghan filmmaker Tamana Ayazi and Marcel Mettelsiefen use their unique access to Zarifa as she navigates multiple layers of political and personal turmoil, including a tense relationship with her father (a leader in the Afghan military) and a dilemma over working with her bodyguard — all against the constant threat of assassination. We see Zarifa making strides in her fiercely patriarchal town outside Kabul. But as the US troops prepare to withdraw, uncertainty builds and the Taliban increase attacks on political officials. It becomes clear Zarifia and her fiancé, Bashir, will be in mortal danger if they stay in the country. Zarifa’s courage has already won her attention in human-rights circles, and now IN HER HANDS will bring her powerful story to the rest of the world. Co-directors Tamana Ayazi and Marcel Mettelsiefen join us for an enlightening and impassioned conversation on the state of Afghanistan’s present and future.
About the filmmaker – Tamana Ayazi is a journalist and filmmaker from Afghanistan. In Her Hands (2022) is her first documentary feature.
About the filmmaker – Marcel Mettelsiefen was born in Munich. His documentary films include the Academy Award–nominated short Watani: My Homeland (2016) and I Want My Country Back (2021). In Her Hands (2022) is his latest film.
“A conventional biography isn’t the aim here. Instead, In Her Hands places the audience firmly within the present tense of Afghanistan as Ghafari uses her platform to advocate for women’s rights.” – Pat Mullen, POV Magazine
“By giving a voice both to Ghafari and — in a few scattered scenes — her fierce opposition, “In Her Hands” does capture with direct immediacy how hard it can be to loosen up a culture with a tradition of rigidity.” – Noel Murray, Los Angeles Times
“Women have obstacles put in their way from birth, and the passion and upset in this documentary that we see from not only Zarifa herself but her family is heartbreaking.” – Romey Norton, Ready Steady Cut