Three Songs For Benazir: A Simple Love Story Amid the Crisis of the Afghanistan War
The pair of Afghan cinema activists, Gulistan and Elizabeth Mirzaei are producers and directors who often cover the lives of Afghan people in short documentaries such as “Farewell Kabul” (2014) and “Laila at the Bridge” (2018).
After trying to show many stories about political conflicts, the murder of an international journalist, and the phenomenon of heroin addiction in Afghanistan, Gulistan and Elizabeth Mirzaei decided to document the hopeful love story of a young couple amidst the complicated circumstances in “Three Songs for Benazir” (2021).
Three Songs for Benazir
Celebrating Love Stories in Difficult Situations
“Three Songs for Benazir” focuses on a young couple living in a refugee camp in Kabul, Afghanistan. Shaista and Benazir are a married couple who have just started a household and are about to be blessed with a child, they are shown to be very happy with little hopes for the future.
The journey of this film shows Shaista’s dream of wanting to make his wife proud by becoming the Afghan National Army. However, his big aspirations are hindered by the difficult realities of life. In the environment where he lives, many fears get in the way, for example the fear of Shaista’s parents who are afraid if their son becomes a soldier, or the threat of a bomb that one day could destroy the area they live in.
However, this film can at least illustrate how the love story of young people represented by Shaista and Benazir can live, and grow full of hope amidst the war conflicts in their country. They dare to take big risks and choose to be happy in a simple way, have a family, have children, and knit big dreams amidst so little hope.
Documentary Shorts that Are Nominated for Oscars
Among the many story themes in Afghanistan that could be made into a documentary film, “Three Songs for Benazir” chose to focus on a love story that grew in the midst of political conflict. This was explained by director Gulistan Mirzae, that the relationship between Shaista and Benazir is a story that deserves to be told to the world, how the power of love is still as sweet and poetic even though it is created in the midst of difficult conditions.
“Three Songs for Benazir” was finally able to attract world attention by being nominated in the Best Documentary (short Subject) category at the 94th Academy Awards. The story presented in this film explains that Afghanistan does not only carry stories of war and destruction, but can it is also a place where people fall in love.
Afghan Films from an Afghan Perspective
When viewed from the background of making the film, “Three Songs for Benazir” is a very personal documentary for Gulistan and Elizabeth Mirzaei. They have known Shaista and Benazir for a long time when they were both social workers distributing food to people living in the camps.
Benazir’s cheerfulness and Shaista’s sincerity impressed the couple Gulistan and Elizabeth Mirzaei and seemed to have found happiness in their hardest days in the war-conflict area.
Stories about Afghanistan appear more often in films that depict how hot the war conflict is, military violence, or stories of foreigners who want to be heroes. However, in “Three Songs for Benazir”, they want to provide another perspective on life in Afghanistan from the lens and voice of the Afghans themselves.
In the end, “Three Songs for Benazir” is one of the most poetic and heart-touching documentaries, both in terms of its unusual point of view and its fitting simplicity. There are some ironies that leave an impression, for example about the phenomenon of opium addiction which is considered to be commonplace and the sight of life’s difficulties that seem normal to occur there.