YIDFF 2023 Closing Film
The List

UK / 2023 / English, Persian / Color / DCP / 65 min

- Director, Photography, Editing: Hana Makhmalbaf
Producer: Maysam Makhmalbaf
Production Company, Source: Makhmalbaf Film House

In 2021, within a few days of the withdrawal of international troops from Afghanistan, the Taliban returns to power. Filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf and his family rush to work by phone and computer from their London home to help the many artists and filmmakers who have been suddenly exposed to the threat of execution exit the country. Attached to the wall is a list of cultural figures in need of safe passage. The family attempts to guide these individuals to transport planes, but many others have also gathered at the Kabul airport in hopes of fleeing, and it is easier said than done. Scenes in Kabul and London intersect as they do everything in their power, working against the clock and under pressure.

[Director’s Statement] In August 2021, with the sudden announcement of the US president’s decision to withdraw from Afghanistan, the Taliban quickly gained momentum and climbed back into power. In a few days, with the final withdrawal of the international forces from Kabul, the lives of millions of Afghan people suddenly changed for the worse. Overnight, many local artists and filmmakers who had made films against the Taliban during the past twenty years found themselves in the hands of their worst enemy. Instantly, the lives of all those actors, writers and journalists were put at tremendous risk. Being present in the media for many years, as famous people, they could find nowhere to hide from the Taliban. The fear of execution and torture by the Taliban led to some individuals hanging from the wings of departing US military planes, hoping to escape a more brutal death in their country. Having made a few films in Afghanistan and being aware of the potential human catastrophe ahead, we embarked on an effort to try and rescue over eight hundred artists, journalists, and their families whose lives were in immediate danger. In the remaining week, our team knocked on every door in the world, asking for help to save these endangered lives. The present film is a documentation of part of those last few days in Afghanistan. This film is my cry for help in saving a few more lives.

- Hana Makhmalbaf

Started her career by making short films and documentaries at a very young age. At fourteen, her documentary Joy of Madness (2003) premiered at the Venice International Film Festival, earning two special mentions including the Lina Mangiacapre Award—she was the youngest director to be included in selection for the Festival—and the Special Jury Prize at Tokyo Filmex. At eighteen, her first feature Buddha Collapsed Out of Shame (2007), won her the Crystal Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival. Her film Green Days (2009), brought her back to Italy, with the young director mesmerizing the audience at the 66th Venice International Film Festival.