Shakiba Adil (Kabul/Outokumpu)
The filmmaker was born in Kabul in 1975. She graduated from the Malalai School. After 2001, she hosted a children's programme on Kabul TV and worked as a camerawoman with the media organization AINA. In 2004, she emigrated to Finland, where she completed training in the multicultural programme Basaari of the YLE television station. She is currently studying radio, television and documentary film production at North Carelian College.
Latif Ahmadi (Kabul)
The director born in 1950 in Kabul finished his studies to become a certified engineer in 1975 and founded the film production firm Ariana in the same year. He has since then produced a number of advertising films and worked as a cameraman. In the early 1980s, he worked for Afghan television. In 1982 he produced the feature film Farar ("Escape") and in 1986 Parandaha-ye Mohajer ("Birds of Passage"). From 1986 to 1992 he was the director of the state-run film production company Afghan Films, and from 1992 to 1994 the cultural attaché to Tajikistan. He has been living in Afghanistan again since 2002 and was again appointed the director of Afghan Films in 2004.
The philosopher was born in Kabul in 1964, and lived in Leipzig (Germany) between 1983 and 1994 where she studied philosophy. 1994 she received a PhD in Philosophy on The relationship between Afghanistan and Germany between 1919 and 1929. In 1988 she joined the Committee for Women's Political Participation. Between 1995 and 1996 she conducted scientific research on Afghanistan between the two World Wars 1914-1945, based on archive material at the institute Zentrum Moderner Orient in Munich/Berlin. Since 2002 she works with the Deutscher Entwicklungsdienst (DED) in Kabul as a consultant to further democracy and since 2008 as coordinator for peace building (ziviler Friedensdienst).
Khaleq Alil (Kabul)
He completed his studies in religious law at the University of Kabul at the beginning of the 1970s and then studied to become a film director at the state film academy in Moscow (WIGK). For five years he was president of the state film institute Afghan Films and shot a number of documentary films and three feature films in Afghanistan. He is currently living in the Ukraine.
Nacir Alqas (Kassel)
The director, who was born in Kabul in 1956, completed his studies to become a film director. He worked as a director and actor with Afghan Films and Afghan TV. He also hosted and produced numerous television shows. After an assassination attempt on him he emigrated with his family to Germany in 1996 and has been living in Kassel since then. In 2006 he co-produced the film Zendan.
Manizha Bakhtari (Kabul)
The writer was born in Afghanistan. She spent many years in exile in Pakistan alongside her well-known poet and writer father. She has a degree in literature and journalism and teaches at the University of Kabul. She has published extensively and is now head of the administrative department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Rakhshan Bani-Etemad (Tehran)
The director was born in 1954 in Tehran, she studied to become a film director at the University of Dramatic Arts (FDA) in Tehran and worked from 1973 on as assistant director, reporter and manager for Iranian television. From 1979 to 1986 she shot a series of short documentary films. In 1988 she completed her first feature film Kharej az Mahdudeh ("Off the Limits") - a satire on Iranian bureaucracy. For Nargess she received the award for best director at the Fadjr Film Festival 1992 as the first woman ever. In her films, Bani-Etemad repeatedly deals with tabooed topics such as poverty, crime, impossible love, and social repression. Her film Rusari abi ("The Blue-veiled") from 1995 was awarded the Bronze Leopard at the film festival in Locarno. Among her further films are Banoo-ye Ordibehesht ("May Lady") 1998, Zir-e Poost-e Shahr ("Under the Skin of the City") 2000 and Ruzegar-e ma ("Our Times") 2002.
She is currently working on a new feature film in the border region between Afghanistan and Iran.
Elfe Brandenburger (Berlin)
The filmmaker participated in the artists' group minimal club, which produced theatre and video projects as well as books and magazines. Since 1985, she has also been working as a film editor. Her video works, which were in part produced in cooperation projects with Mano Wittmann, were shown at various venues and in different contexts. She co-directed Passing the Rainbow which evolved out of the collaboration with Sandra Schäfer on the short film The Making of a Demonstration.
Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne (Liège)
The two brothers were both born in the 1950s in Liège, Belgium. They studied drama and philosophy at the Art Academy Brussels, and write, produce and direct their films together.
The Dardennes achieved their first major success with La Promesse ("The Promise") in 1996. As creators of intensely naturalistic films about lower class life in Belgium, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne have created a body of work since then which places them clearly at the fore of contemporary Belgian cinema and among the world's most critically respected filmmakers as well. With La Promesse (1996), Rosetta (1999), Le Fils ("The Son"/ 2002), and L'Enfant ("The Child"/ 2005), the Dardennes' films are stark but modest portrayals of young people at the fringes of society - migrants, the unemployed, the inhabitants of shelters.
Both Rosetta and L'Enfant were awarded the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, the only two Belgian films ever to earn the honor.
Kelly Dolak (New York)
The independent documentary filmmaker teaches at Ramapo College in New Jersey. She has produced three short films: You make me (1998), Bound rewound (1998) and Purse (2000). She started her cinematographic work with the show Behind the screen, which was broadcast on AMC.
Forugh Farrokhzad (Tehran)
The poetess was born 1935 into a middle-class family in Tehran. She married at sixteen, gave birth to a son at eighteen, and was divorced before her twentieth birthday. Farrokhzad relinquished her son to her ex-husband's family in order to focus on her poetry and to follow her independent life style.
The modern Iranian poetess Forugh Farrokhzad virtually "opened the windows" of Iranian poetry to real relationships and the real world. Her frank presentation of feelings about loving, sexual relationships was revolutionary. 1959 Farrokhzad went to England to study film production. Back in Iran, she had her first experiences in editing a film called Yek Atash ("A Fire"), photographed by Golestan's brother Shahrokh.
In 1962, Farrokhzad and three colleagues from Golestan Films travelled to Tabriz and in twelve days filmed Khaneh siah ast ("The House is black"). In the age of 32 she died during a car accident.
Gulaley Habib (Kabul)
The journalist was born in Kabul. She worked for three decades as a history teacher. She has been a journalist with many publications and headed the Shafagh journal for six years. She wrote a column named Women the real losers of war in the magazine Kabulistan. She has authored Women on the path towards freedom. She is editor-in-chief of the bi-monthly Dunya-e zan (World of women) and deputy of the party Taraghi Vatan.
Shafiqa Habibi (Kabul)
The journalist has a B.A. in journalism from the University of Kabul and is a well-known news journalist at the national Radio and Television of Afghanistan (RTA). She has been awarded national and international prizes for courage in journalism during the Taleban regime. She co-founded the New Afghanistan Women's Association and the Association for Women Journalists. She has also headed the Committee for Women's Political Participation and is member of the Commission for Information and Communications of UNESCO Afghanistan.
Nooria Haqnigar (Kabul)
The engineer with a degree from the Kabul Polytechnic started political activities at a very young age and spent three years in prison during the rule of the Democratic People’s Party. She headed the education and dissemination department of the Ministry of Women's Affairs. She is now deputy of the Party for Liberty and the Committee for Women's Political Participation.
Mina Hosseini (Kabul)
The student is finishing her studies in high school and is one of the most active members of the younger generation involved in social and cultural activities in Kabul. Born in Iran where her parents relocated themselves as refugees, Hosseini has been working with the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung and has worked as a journalist in Kabul.
Amina Jafari (Kabul)
In 2004 the actress and director participated in the girls' theatre group in Kabul that performed didactical plays calling for women and men to vote. She plays the leading part in Rushany ("Lightness") and in 2004 she shot her documentary Zanan va Sinema ("Women and Cinema").
Azra Jafari (Nili)
The women activist was born 1978 in Mashhad (Iran) where her Afghan parents relocated themselves as refugees. She established and managed an elementary school for the Afghan refugees in a refugees' cultural center in Mashhad. From 1998 to 2000 she was editor in chief of the cultural social magazine Farhang. 2001 she joined the Emergency Loya Jirga in Kabul. She worked from 2002 to 2003 for the Equal Rights Association in Kabul. In 2007 she graduated at IHS (Institute of Health Science in Kabul) in midwifery. In January 2008 she joined the organization Armanshahr/OPEN ASIA as head of the section Gender and Rights. Since November 2008 Azra Jafari is mayor of Nili in Daikundi Province and the first women mayor in Afghanistan. Also in 2008 she published the handbook I am a working woman on the rights of Afghan women in the labor market and labor laws.
Guissou Jahangiri (Paris/Kabul)
The women’s activist was born in Tehran and raised in France. She has a doctoral degree (DEA) in political sociology and strategic studies and worked as a journalist with the Courrier International and as a consultant with the UN. She co-founded OPEN ASIA/Armanshahr in 1995, an organization working towards democracy and peace building and a culture of human rights in Central Asia. She has headed OPEN ASIA/Armanshahr since then.
Sharifa Khanam (Pudukkottai)
The women activist lives and works in the Tamil city of Pudukkottai in India. In 1987 she founded STEPS. Sharifa Khanam has made it her task to build up a Muslim community center for women that includes a prayer room, a research and training center dedicated to Muslim law, and an office coordinating educational issues and jobs. STEPS offers a full-time center dealing with violence, work with women, the right to health and public security. Sharifa Khanam was a member of various initiatives such as the Tamil Nadu Women’s Network and the Tamil Nadu Women’s Coordination Committee. Today, Sharifa Khanam coordinates a large network of Muslim women in the state of Tamil Nadu.
Marzieh Mortazi Langroudi (Tehran)
The activist is an expert in the field of women’s studies in Iran. She holds a doctoral degree (DEA) in political sociology and strategic studies and worked as a journalist with the Courrier International and as a consultant with the UN. She is one of the founders of Mothers for peace and also a member of the management committee of the Society for Protecting Prisoner's Rights in Iran. Mortazi Langroudi's activities center around removing all sorts of discrimination against women in Iran. She has published several articles on the subject of women’s rights in Iran. Mortazi Langroudi belongs to the progressive religious intellectual movement in Iran.
Kim Longinotto (London)
The British documentary filmmaker studies camera and direction at the national film and television academy Beaconsfield, where she shot, among others, the film Theatre Girls about a hostel for homeless women. In 1986 she founded the production firm Twentieth Century Vixen together with Claire Hunt. Among the films she produced is Hidden Faces with and about women in Egypt. Together with Jano Williams she shot the film Shinjuku Boys in 1995 on three women in Tokyo living as men. With Ziba Mir-Hosseini she made the two films Divorce Iranian Style (1998) and Runaway (2001). Her latest film Sisters in Law (2005) deals with two female judges in Cameroon and received several awards at the Film Festival in Cannes.
Ziba Mir-Hosseini (London/Tehran)
The Iranian anthropologist examines gender issues in rural and urban Iran as well as in Morocco. Since the revolution in 1979, she has done research on family courts in Tehran and followed debates on family law related to themes of gender. This led to the book Marriage on trial; a study of family law in Iran and Morocco, which in turn resulted in the film Divorce Iranian Style, produced with Kim Longinotto in 1998. In 2001 she again shot a film together with Longinotto titled Runaway. The film is about young girls in a Tehran children's home which temporarily serves as a refuge from domestic abuse, forced marriages and other conflicts. Further publications include: Feminism and the Islamic Republic: Dialogues with the Ulema (1999), Islam and Democracy in Iran: Eshkevari and the Quest for Reform (2006, with Richard Tapper).
Wazhmah Osman (New York)
The independent documentary filmmaker did her master's degree in Middle East Studies at New York University. She worked as a film technician, film advisor and curator at the Millennium Film Workshops and at Cooper Union. In 2002 she shot her film Buried alive: Women of Afghanistan under Taliban and in 1999 In the I's. She is currently writing her doctoral thesis.
Roya Sadat (Herat)
The director was born in 1981 and studied politics in Herat. She is the author of two short films and hosted several contributions to the public television programme Woman and Society. Se Noqta is the first longer feature film she has directed. She is currently working in Kabul with Tolo TV on the serial Razhaie en Khaneh ("The secrets of this house") and on her second feature film.
Saba Sahar (Kabul)
The actress, filmmaker and policewoman stood on the stage of the Kabul theatre for the first time in 1986. In 1989 she was trained to become a director at the production firm Shafaq Film. She later studied at the art faculty of Kabul University. Saba Sahar has performed as an actress in numerous artistic film productions and plays. During the time of the Taliban reign, she lived in Pakistan. After the Taliban regime was toppled, she returned to Kabul and was trained to become a policewoman. In 2002 she founded her own production firm Saba Film. She shot her first film in 2004 with Ghafar Zalan: the action feature Qanun ("The Law"). Two years later she produced her new film Nejat ("Rescue").
Diana Saqeb (Kabul)
The young Afghan filmmakers spent 26 years of her life in Tehran and has now been living in Kabul again for a year. She is a member of the artists' group CACA-Kabul. She had previously completed her studies to become a film director at the art academy in Tehran.
Her first documentary film 25 Darsad ("25 Percent") deals with six female members of parliament and their difficulties and efforts in everyday life.
Sandra Schäfer (Berlin)
The filmmaker and curator of film programmes lives and works in Berlin. She studied art, politics and sociology in Kassel, London and Karlsruhe. She has made repeated visits to Kabul and Tehran since 2007 to work together with Elfe Brandenburger on the documentary film Passing the Rainbow and do research for the film festival Kabul/Teheran: 1979ff. She curated film series on Afghanistan and Tehran in Belfast, Lüneburg, Karlsruhe, and Berlin, and is co-editor of the book Kabul/ Teheran 1979ff: Filmlandschaften, Städte unter Stress und Migration, published in 2006 by b_books, Berlin. Videos, films and video installations (choice): The Making of a Demonstration (2004), A Country's new Dawn (2001) and The invisible Services (2000).
Kamran Shirdel (Tehran)
The documentary filmmaker studied architecture and film in Rome. His work was strongly influenced by the Italian neorealists. After returning to Iran in 1965, he founded the first film club allowed by the state together with other filmmakers. That same year he shot his first documentary film. It was followed by a social-critical trilogy, which he was only able to complete in the 1980s. In 2000 he founded the Kish Documentary Film Festival, which since 2006 has a new director due to political disputes on the island of Kish. He is currently preparing his new film Solitude Opus No2.
Nazifa Zakizada (Kabul)
The filmmaker was born in Afghanistan in 1984. She left her country due to the civil wars and lived in Tehran for 20 years. After taking her school-leaving exam, she returned to Afghanistan in 2003 and worked together with her brother Sayed Mussa Zakizada as a set-assistance for the Royan Artistic Center.
Her film Edame Rah ("Continuing the way") was made in 2006 during a documentary film workshop organised by the French film initiative Atelier Varan in Kabul.