When the Taliban charged in to Afghanistan’s state-run film company in the mid-1990s intent on destroying all the movies, Habibullah Ali risked everything to save them. He hid thousands of reels of footage showcasing Afghanistan’s rich cultural history, knowing that if the Taliban found out he faced certain death.
“We did not expect to leave for our homes that day alive,” Ali tells AFP, clutching a saved reel. “If they had found out we had hidden movies they would have killed us.”
The ultra-conservative Taliban – who banned popular entertainment, including cinema and music, during their brutal 1996-2001 rule, burned several movie reels before leaving. But they failed to discover some 7,000 precious films that Ali and his colleagues hid in various places across the Kabul premises of Afghan Film.