Afghanistan | 128 MINUTES
Many children imagine "secret friends" whom only they can see. The figures little Zolykha imagines aren't quite so benign -in fact they're all the enemies who have attempted to invade and control her land throughout its turbulent history. Zolykha is an Afghan, the youngest of three children in a rural family that lives at the base of a remote mountain and struggles to eke out an existence during the brutal final years of Taliban rule. Their tale is told through Zolykha's receptive and curious eyes. Her family must overcome many hardships, but nothing can prepare them to resist the advent of the volatile Yusuf, who has allied himself with those in power and who now has eyes for Amena, Zolykha's 13-year-old sister. Director Horace Ahmad Shansab has managed to skillfully weave elements of Afghan culture through all aspects of this unforgettable film, and brilliantly realizes his goal to "remind its audience that we were all once helpless children, and that the lives of the poor, the voiceless and the desperate are just as precious and sweet as their own." This deeply moving account is the first Afghan- produced feature to make it to the west since Siddiq Barmak's Osama won the 2004 Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film.