LAND MINES: A LOVE STORY
The story of Shah, a former Mujahideen soldier, and Habiba, a young Afghan woman injured by a Russian land mine following the Soviet Occupation of Afghanistan. Shah, a cobbler, fixes shoes in a crowded bazaar while Habiba begs in the streets to support her family. There, amid the ruined city of Kabul, they meet and embark on an unlikely courtship. Overcoming the obstacles of religion and tradition in their search for love, Habiba and Shah must show extraordinary bravery and morality in a world of sanctioned violence and lies.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Mines were strewn in the ground of Afghanistan like seeds, by all sides. Shah talks about his work with setting mines when a member of the Mujehadeen. The Russians laid them, the Americans laid them, everyone laid them.
Shah has a lot of pride - perhaps his only possession that can't be taken away. But it's a double edged sword; it sustains him, but it shames him, too. His wife a beggar? But there's not much choice in this Afghanistan, this tortured country whose history is pockmarked by the cruelty of humanity, scarred by a million landmines sown into its land.
Australia's controversial documentary filmmaker Dennis O'Rourke has a knack for razor edge insights that need no editorial additions to his pictures. Films like Cannibal Tours, A Good Woman of Bangkok and Cunnamulla attest to his ability to find a universal story in a very particular setting and show us the bare bones of humanity. But he doesn't miss out the heart.
The two central characters talk to camera and tell their stories, but through their words and O'Rourke's pictures, we get to visit that other world, the world that's very real to those he films, yet so distant from our comfort zones.
When Shah and Habiba talk about her pregnancy, after already having three children scrape through their poverty, we may find it baffling. But Shah says they trust in god, and adds, "We know when our children grow up they will look after us." We may wonder at their wisdom at adding a fourth child to the half starved family - or else that's about the most effective definition of optimism I've ever seen.
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DENNIS O'ROURKE INTERVIEW
LAND MINES: A LOVE STORY (PG)
PRODUCER: Dennis O'Rourke
DIRECTOR: Dennis O'Rourke
SCRIPT: Dennis O'Rourke
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Dennis O'Rourke
EDITOR: Ruth Cullen, Andrea Lang
MUSIC: Christine Woodruff
PRODUCTION DESIGN: N/a
RUNNING TIME: 71 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Ronin
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: May 5, 2005