After 30 years of war and Taliban-rule, pop culture has returned to Afghanistan. Afghan Star – a Pop Idol-style TV series – is searching the country for the next generation of music stars. Over 2000 people are auditioning and even three women have come forward to try their luck. The organizers, Tolo TV, believe with this programme they can ‘move people from guns to music’.
But in a troubled country like Afghanistan, even music is controversial. Considered sacrilegious by the Mujahiddeen and outright banned by the Taliban (1996-2001), music has come to symbolize freedom for the youth. While the conflict still rages many of those taking part are literally risking their lives.
But the old guard warlords and religious elite have more to worry about than just music. Millions of people watch the show (11 mn watched the final – a third of the country) and vote by SMS from their cell phone for their favourite singers. For many, this is the first time they have encountered democracy: one man or one women equals one vote. All – the different genders, ethnic groups, age sectors – are equal. This is a highly radical idea in a country still essentially based on a male-dominated tribal elder system. For the first time young people, ethnic minorities and women have an arena in which to shine. And at last, the people are allowed to vote for who they want.
This documentary follows the three month process from the regional auditions to the final in Kabul. Behind the scenes at all times we gained unprecedented access to the lives of contestants, fans and producers alike.
For screening times and locations go HERE.