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Film Review: Bambirak
by Karen Pecota

Filmmaker Zamarin Wahdat, born in Afghanistan and raised in Germany, brings pride to both countries in her first directorial short film debut in Bambirak. Chosen to screen in the short film program at the virtual Sundance Film Festival 2021, Wahdat received more acclaim with a win for the 2021 Short Film Jury Award for International Fiction.

An attendee at the NYU Tisch School of the Arts as a Dean's fellow, Wahdat's work as a cinematographer and interviewer in the short film Learning How to Skate in a Warzone (If you are a girl) screened at 2020 film festivals such as Sundance, Berlinale, SXSW and TriBeCa. Wahdat received an Academy Award for Best Documentary (Shorts Program) for the project.

This experience encouraged her to write the script for Bambirak which she would go on to direct the short film project. In support of the Hollywood International Press Association Fund Wahdat's short film narrative Bambirak explores what it is like to be a foreigner in a land not your own. Thankful to be in a world free from turmoil, but the process of learning how to live in a new culture has its drawbacks as well as its advantages. Confronted with themes of identity and acceptance as foreigners (both adult and child) must come to grips with how they will choose to move forward in order to live a new and productive life.


Eight-year-old Kati (Lara Cenginz) and her father Faruk (Kailas Mahadevan) move to Germany from Afghanistan to start a new life. Kati and Faruk learn the language of their new homeland and feel confident to cut out a path, for the two of them, within the normal daily German routine: Kati, as a student; and Faruk, as a delivery driver.

As one can imagine, the stress of trying to fit-in takes its toll. One day, Kati decides to stow-away in her dad's delivery van instead of heading to school. Faruk's challenge as a single dad to deal with the situation in front of his boss brings an inner fear that he could possibly lose his job (a job Faruk desperately needs) over Kati's escapade. Children of mischief rarely see those consequences. Kati would never purposely put her dad's job in jeopardy. She simply needed him. She needed a break. Faruk and Kati become a delightful partnership this day but hold account that their actions have consequences.