________________ CM . . . . Volume XVI Number 18 . . . . January 15, 2010


Good Morning Kandahar.

Ariel Nasr (Writer & Director). Annette Clarke (Producer). Kent Martin (Executive Producer).
Montreal, PQ: National Film Board of Canada, 2008.
50 min., 11 sec., DVD, $99.95.
Order Number: 153C 9909 379.

Grades 9 and up / Ages 14 and up.

Review by Cathy Vincent-Linderoos.

*** /4

A relatively short film which presents the war in Afghanistan primarily through the eyes of young Afghan-Canadian adults, Good Morning Kandahar shows a range of the cultural, geographic and linguistic facets of the country. Wainright, AB, features prominently in the film, too, since that is where the Canadian army has staged a physical replica of what the actual Kandahar topography and its resident population will look like ''on the ground'' to our Canadian soldiers.

     I think showing this film is an ideal way to introduce Afghanistan as well as Canadian involvement in the NATO-driven war in Kandahar to our high school students and others. Explanations by three Afghan-Canadian individuals of their deeply-felt feelings for their country of origin are crucial to our understanding of what it means to them to be living so far away from the war-torn place where they were born. ''My country is my heart'' are the words which one of them utters in a poignant description of the place where now he can only hope to belong in some small way. We also hear from Afghan-Canadians who act the parts of Kandahari villagers in the (Wainright) prairie settings of battle simulations.

     Giving the Canadian-based radio station called Rana FM its raison d'etre is the obvious need for Kandaharis to enjoy some relatively light music and information in their own tongue by easily accessible, safely-produced radio. Its presence in the face of extreme poverty and never-ending war is a much-needed distraction for old and young alike; the young, talented on-air staff of the station speak fluently in the Pashto dialect spoken in Afghanistan. They appear to be fluent translators of any written English material to the necessary Pashto dialect. We actually see several scenes filmed in Kandahar which clearly show the positive effects that the radio station's programs are having on the local people who listen to them. Important to the mandate of the station is the fact that information about safely interacting with the foreign troops is provided in the programming.

     Questions from students about Afghanis in Canada and the Afghan diaspora will follow naturally after a class sees Good Morning Kandahar. For example, why are there men but so few girls and women attending the pop concert that we see? What are the differences between women's lives in Afghanistan and Canada? How long do children stay at the schools in Afghanistan? What are the lives of teens like? Why do Canadian soldiers and many others feel that fighting this war will ultimately improve the lives of the Afghan people? Has the Taliban, in fact, been brought to its knees, as stated in the film? What is meant by the term 'common people' of Afghanistan as it is used in the film? What unnecessary but common stereotypes do some Canadians hold about Afghans? How is this war like and unlike the Vietnam war?

     I like the length of this film for a history class to view. While not perhaps as thorough or revealing a film as it might have been, it is a manageable length. As well, there are many obvious questions (see above for examples) that would lend guidance for further book study.


Cathy Vincent-Linderoos is a retired teacher living in London, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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