Private Project


Mohtarama is mainly about the educated Afghan women and their common concerns that ranges from lack of political and social rights to domestic violence and troubled married lives to street harassment.

  • Malek Shafi'i
  • Diana Saqeb
  • Malek Shafi'i
  • Malek Shafi'i
  • Vida Saghary
    Key Cast
  • Somaya Ramesh
    Key Cast
  • Sada Soltani
    Key Cast
  • Noorjahan Akbar
    Key Cast
  • Project Title (Original Language):
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    59 minutes 45 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    January 1, 2013
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
    Black & White
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Yamagata Inernational Film Festival
    Yamagata, Japan
    October 11, 2013
    Japan premier
    Award of excellence
  • Women Voice Film Festival
    March 7, 2014
    USA premier
    Second best documentary
  • CPH:Dox
    November 7, 2014
    Denmark Premier
Director Biography - Malek Shafi'i, Diana Saqeb

Malek Shafi’i
Malek Shafi’i has been making documentary films in Afghanistan and abroad for the last 12 years. He completed his education at Baagh Ferdaws Islamic Filmmaking Center in 1999 in Tehran and additionally attended a film production course in the Netherlands.
Coming to Afghanistan after 20 years of exile, he has been living in Kabul for the past ten years. He founded Afghanistan Cinema Club – BASA in 2006. He also worked as a senior advisor for the Radio Television of Afghanistan.
He has made about 30 films. Some of them won international film awards from different international film festivals.
Shafi’i was a Jury member of the Tolo TV Film Festival, Kabul Film Festival, Amnesty Award of CPH-DOX (Copenhagen Documentary Film Festival) and BANFF.
Shafi'i is founder and director of Autumn Human Rights Film Festival. This next AHRFF festival is due to take place every year in October.
He also organized the second and third editions of the Kabul International Documentary and Short Film Festival; and Second Take - a film festival with a principal focus on gender and cinema.
Diana Saqeb
Documentary filmmaker and women rights activist, Diana Saqeb spent 24 years as an immigrant. For the past three years, she has been a resident of Kabul. She studied at the Tehran Art Academy to become a film director. She is currently a member of BASA - an artists' group based in Kabul.
Her first documentary film 25 Percent deals with six female members of the Afghan parliament and the challenges they face in their daily lives. 25 Percent has been screened at many film festivals across the world.
Her second documentary Run Roobina Run is about Roobina Moqimyar, the first Afghan female athlete to participate in the Olympic games. It was screened during the Beijing Olympic Games, 2010.
Diana is the festival coordinator of the first Autumn Human Rights Film Festival. She has worked as deputy director on the second and third editions of the Kabul International Film Festival; and Second Take, a film festival with a principal focus on Gender and Cinema. She is the chief editor of Theme – a magazine on Cinema, Theatre, Music and Television.

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Director Statement

Diana and I started making “Mohtarama” in 2009, when Afghans had more hopes for their future. We set up an office and produced films, published a monthly magazine on films and organized film festivals and workshops. These activities were unable to fulfill our passion for helping to rehabilitation of Afghanistan, so at the same time we started activities on women’s rights; we organized numerous meetings about women and tried to encourage them to go outside and protect on the streets to stand for their rights.

During our activities, we faced too many problems since we belong to two different ethnic groups. We were about to be jailed a couple of times, we introduced ourselves as a married couple for getting work permission many times and we escaped some suspected people in a few cases.

During these activities, I noticed that Diana is stressed; not for her, but for the same age women whom she met who were trying to make a space to breathe but the more they try, the more they discomfort.

Women face more challenges when they get more educated in Afghanistan today and from inside their families to community level, people do not behave them well and their expectations are not equal to their needs.

I tried to focus on Diana’s concerns in the documentary “Mohtarama” and I also tried to follow other women at the same age group and education level to capture their challenges and to find out whether if there is any “Women Movement” in Afghanistan or not?

Since Diana herself is a filmmaker, she was not very comfortable in front of the camera so she was unable to share her concerns the much I expected.

This film is a start up for us to share the same women’s challenges and concerns more and better. Afghan women are standing against their tradition, culture and religious oriented society and they are trying hard for a better life.

And, I still positively think that this was not our last teamwork and I look forward to our more activities in future!

Malek Shafi’i