Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The Beauty Academy of Kabul: Grade A


The Beauty Academy of Kabul (2004)

Producer & Director: Liz Mermin

Six American women went to Afghanistan to teach women how to do hair and makeup. This short documentary tracks their experiences. After a slow start about the logistics of setting up the school, the film gets into the Afghan women’s personal stories, which are remarkable, and which reveal a great deal about life in that country during and after the Taliban. Some of the Americans had fled Afghanistan in the 80’s and were horrified and moved at the destruction they found upon return, and touched by the courage and ambition of the women who stayed. It would have been only a moderately interesting documentary, but the DVD extras, which are as long as the film itself, include monologues from each of the American women telling what motivated them to join this project, and what they learned from it. These “deleted scenes” are revealing, insightful and moving. The documentary is a background context for them, and they raise the whole project to a high level of documentary achievement.

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