AudioVision

From Southern California, public radio for your eyes.

Picture This: Images from Afghanistan's movie culture

Five years ago, Jonathan Saruk first began documenting the war in Afghanistan the usual way – embedded with soldiers.

But soon he started looking to tell stories of the conflict-ridden county from a different perspective.

While covering the "Mr. Afghanistan" body building competition in June 2009, something peaked his curiosity: the event was held at the rundown Park Cinema in Shawr-e-Naw.

Listen to an interview with Jonathan Saruk on KPCC's Take Two.

For years the Taliban had banned moviegoing, leaving theaters in Kabul empty and neglected.

"As soon as [the Taliban] were forced out there was a resurgence of people going back to the theaters again," Saruk told KPCC's Take Two.

When Saruk returned more than a year after the body building event, a handful of cinemas started to reopen and play the latest Pakistani and Indian films.

He began documenting the theaters over the course of eight months.

"[The project] provides an alternative narrative to life in the violence-plagued city, where going to the movies, for many, is an escape from the harsh reality outside," he wrote.

Through a successful Kickstarter campaign that ended earlier this week, Saruk will turn the project into a book called "The Forbidden Reel."

Recently on AudioVision