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by Mary Nyiri

Louis Meunier, Afghanistan/France

In the 1970s, Cinema Aryub was a fashionable theater in Kabul with nine hundred seats and an area reserved for women. Although the structure survived decades of conflict, the cinema remains closed, but serves as a makeshift home to orphans and Naser, the projectionist and caretaker of Cinema Aryubs. Sikandar and Shab, both of whom had attended university, seek to revive the old theater for screening films, concerts and other cultural activities and so present a symbol of the cultural rebirth of Afghanistan. They convince Naser that the cinema can be restored and he reveals that he still has films which he had hidden from the Taliban. The children enthusiastically help with cleaning up. But Naser’s agreement to the plan was in part based on the assertion that Sikander had the support of his father, General Hazrat.