Documenting Kabul's cinema culture

I love Kickstarter, the world's largest crowd funding platform, whose mission is to bring creative projects to life.

I’m constantly amazed at the projects that people think up and often a bit jealous of both their creativity and the determination they show in pursuing funding for their projects.

I’ve just backed one such project, entitled ‘The Forbidden Reel’ which will explore the world of Kabul's cinemas in documentary photographs taken by Jonathan Saruk.


Cinema was banned under the Taliban but has sputtered back to life since the US invasion 12 years ago. The Forbidden Reel 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. 

The seed for The Forbidden Reel was planted in Kabul in June, 2009 while Jonathon was photographing a feature on the Mr. Afghanistan body building competition.  The event was being held in the Park Cinema in Shawr-e-Naw, a rundown building at the edge of the park which he had never before been inside.  He became curious to see it as a functioning movie theater. Unfortunately, he was unable to return to a cinema in the city until a subsequent trip to Afghanistan in the fall of 2010. But when he did, it became clear that the city's cinema culture was a remarkable facet of life in Kabul worth documenting.