Hot Docs 2009: Part II

Audition begins in an Afghan village near the caves that once held the giant Buddas destroyed by the Taliban.  Women are washing clothes in a stream and don’t want to be photographed — their families won’t allow it.

Pazira has returned to Afghanistan from Canada to seek actors for a film.  As she gains the villagers’ trust, we see a tentative rapport.  A few men have worked in films before, and we see people genuinely interested in acting, even if there’s a lot of fooling around in the auditions.  The women are shy, few want to talk, but those who do are articulate about their position as women in their society.  The discussion turns serious when the men are asked to explain the history and concept of their honour and of how the actions of their female relatives reflect on it.  We see people trying to move to a less constrained society but limited by a conservative ethic and concerns for what others will think.

During the Q&A, Pazira mentioned that the families who participated in the film did not object to the women as actors because the subject was primarily to show their own traditions, and the women were acting in traditional roles.

By the end of the film, we are back at the stream washing clothes, but the camera pulls back to reveal that this is really a scripted scene.  How much of what we saw before was the story within the story, and how much was real?  Audition makes us examine not only how the camera affects those who are photographed, but can also present a story of the director’s choosing to an audience.

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