Behind the Headlines

Meet Afghanistan's Undaunted First Female Director

Roya Sadat is considered Afghanistan's first post-Taliban female director. Her work spotlights the ongoing struggles of her nation's women and girls, which in-and-of-itself is a feat, considering the fact that it is still considered taboo for women to appear in movies. Through films like Playing The Taar and Three Dots, Sadat has become a pioneering voice in international cinema, casting the stories of Afghan women fighting the Taliban's lingering political shadow across the global screen.
Forced to leave school after the Taliban takeover in 1996, Sadat began training as an assistant doctor at Kabul hospital — the last remaining place for her to find work. While working there, Sadat boldly wrote and organized a play with her fellow classmates, secretly staging the performance while the hospital chief was not watching.
Following the collapse of the Taliban, Sadat has gone on to achieve worldwide renown for her defiant portraits of Afghan women, who continue to strive for greater visibility in a world still scarred by the brutal regime. "Most of [Afghanistan's] young generation don't have a good education," she reflects. "It's easy [for them to] accept the Taliban's ideology." Spurred by her belief in film's revolutionary power, Sadat founded the International Women's Film Festival in Afghanistan to feature trailblazing female storytellers from around the world.
Want to know more Roya's incredible story? Check out this up-close look at the women of Afghanistan's ongoing struggle for equality.

About Behind the Headlines

Refinery29’s original series “Behind the Headlines” takes an in-depth, human look at the policy debates dominating the global news media, from American immigration reform to the continuing struggles of Syrian refugees and Afghanistan’s lingering gender inequality crisis. Bypassing the pundits, we’re dedicated to spotlighting the stories of the people whose lives have been profoundly impacted by these issues, and believe that their voices must be heard.

Released on March 8, 2017