The Taliban are ruling Afghanistan, they being a repressive regime especially for women, who, among other things, are not allowed to work. This situation is especially difficult for one ... See full summary »



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Credited cast:
Mohammad Arif Herati ...
Zubaida Sahar ...
Mohammad Nadir Khwaja ...
Mohamad Haref Harati
Gul Rehman Ghorbandi ...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Khwaja Nader
Hamida Refah


The Taliban are ruling Afghanistan, they being a repressive regime especially for women, who, among other things, are not allowed to work. This situation is especially difficult for one family consisting solely of three women representing three successive generations. All the males in their family have died in various Afghani wars. The mother had been working as a nurse in a hospital, but regardless of she not being allowed to work, the Taliban has cut off funding to the hospital. The mother and grandmother make what they feel is the only decision they can to survive: they will have the preteen daughter masquerade as a boy so that she can get a job to support the family. The daughter, feeling powerless, agrees despite being scared as if the Taliban discover her masquerade, she is certain they will kill her. Partly as a symbolic measure, the daughter plants a lock of her now cut hair in a pot so that her lost femininity can flourish. The only people outside the family who know of the ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

taliban | boy | girl | school | hair | See All (175) »



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for mature thematic elements | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:


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Release Date:

27 June 2003 (Afghanistan)  »

Also Known As:

Afghan Zero nen  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office


$46,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$51,969 (USA) (6 February 2004)


$1,127,331 (USA) (23 April 2004)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider. See more »


References Escape from Taliban (2003) See more »

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User Reviews

A wonderful and disturbing film about a regime that scarred an entire nation
15 March 2004 | by (jerusalem, israel) – See all my reviews

I'll spare you the tedious task of reading this slightly long review and say outright that this film is great but very hard to watch and requires one of those special moods where one wants to see a film and is reluctant to watch some standard multi personality disorder thriller or a romantic comedy that more and more lately, seem mutually exclusive (How to lose a guy in 10 days, Love actually and the list goes on and on).

Osama, a name that strikes fear in almost every person, is a bogus name of a young girl who lives with her widowed mother and grandmother. The fact that neither women can't go to work under the strict rules of the Taliban, forces the mother to cut her daughter's hair short and send her to work as a boy. Soon enough, the disguised girl is recruited to a religious, Taliban oriented, all male school where she faces the task of fitting in, a task which is partially aided by Esphandi, a beggar teen who knows Osama's secret and goes a great length to hide it, knowing full well that if revealed, both his and her life will be in jeopardy.

According to the IMDB's Biography of Marina Golbahar (who portrays Osama) the struggle for survival is hardly new to her which is probably why she plays in such a credible and moving manner despite having no acting experience. The acting is the cornerstone of the film and it is the main contributor to the film's impact. Another major factor is the scenery, I will elaborate on that later on.

Without going into detail as to the plot's progress, I will note that the film doesn't try to embellish the harsh reality of Afghan women and especially their children who, according to the film, are doomed in most cases to be robbed of their childhood.

I added the "according to the film" reference because this film doesn't try to convey it's hatred to this regime and although I'm hardly a Taliban devotee, I am skeptic enough to know that film can depict anyone they want anyway they choose (just the other day there was a story on 60 minutes that showed how North Korean kids are brainwashed to believe that George W Bush is the 21st century's Hitler ) so one must approach this film under a very critical point of view.

But even so, there is little dispute that women's rights were trampled during the Taliban reign of oppression and that Afghanistan is a nation in plight in large part due to that regime (was it the setting or did the Taliban also banned the building of houses with roofs?).

The only reservation I have of the film is the fact that under the loathing of the Talibans, the director, Siddiq bermak, added scenes that weakens the usually high sense of genuineness of the film. For example, in a wedding party the women sing almost throughout the scene about men falling in the war against Russia in the late 80's. Not your regular spice-up-the-party tunes. I assume the director wanted to give us a little background about the characters and forgot that the key to the story's conviction is the appeal of Osama and not the appall of the Taliban (I used that word eight times in this review, I think I overdid it).

But other than that, the film is very powerful and although the real magnitude if the suffering in Afghanistan will never be known to its full extent, I still managed to feel empathy for the people I used to be completely indifferent to (I admit to my eternal shame).

8.5 out of 10 on FilmOmeter.

One more thing I'd like to address to is the quote in the beginning of the film. In the Hebrew subtitled version of the film, the quote was translated as "I may forgive but won't forget" by Nelson Mandela. In the film, however, the quote (in Arabic letters) refers to Doctor Shariati who was the ideologue of the Iranian cue (I didn't get the chance to read the actual quote because my Arabic is a little rusty). I guess there wasn't much point in explaining to a viewer like myself who Shariati was but nevertheless, its an evidence of the tiny alterations film go when they are branded for foreign viewing.

11 of 17 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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