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Following more than three decades of war and five devastating years of Taliban rule, pop culture is beginning to return to Afghanistan. Since 2005, millions have been tuning in to Tolo TV's wildly popular American Idol-style series "Afghan Star." Like its Western predecessors, contestants compete for a cash prize and record deal. More surprisingly, the contest is open to everyone across the country despite gender, ethnicity or age. And when viewers vote for their favorites via cell phone, it is, for many, their first encounter with the democratic process. This timely and moving film follows the dramatic stories of four young finalists—two men and two very brave women—as they hazard everything to become the nation's favorite performer. By observing the Afghani people's relationship to their pop culture, AFGHAN STAR is the perfect window into a country's tenuous, ongoing struggle for modernity. What Americans consider frivolous entertainment is downright revolutionary in this embattled part of the world.
Movie Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes
- Reviews Counted: 60
- Fresh: 60
- Rotten: 0
- Average Rating: 7.6/10
Top Critics' Reviews
Fresh: The movie uses the talent show Afghan Star as a prism through which to examine the fragmented tribal culture of Afghanistan as reflected in the backgrounds of four finalists (two of them women) and the public responses to their performances.
Fresh: This eye-opening film reveals that even systems as dubious as the Idol format mean dramatically different things when transferred to radically dissimilar cultures.
Fresh: Although sadly rife with gut-clenching moments as those, Afghan Star is most thrilling when depicting the show's delicately balanced effort to bring Afghans together despite their fractious ethnic and clan boundaries.
Fresh: If you think it's impossible to underestimate the cultural significance of American Idol, go see British filmmaker Havana Marking's documentary about its Afghani imitator.