Watch The Trailer
Storyline (warning: spoilers)
Inspired by real stories, and shot on the streets of Kabul in Afghanistan, Granaz Moussavi’s new feature, which was partly funded by the Adelaide Film Festival, and post-produced in Adelaide, gave an alternative perspective of war to that of so many other films popular in western culture. War films like Lone Survivor and Three Kings (set in Iraq) paint a picture of the Middle East that tries to evoke sympathy for western lead actors and whatever horrific situation they find themselves in. When Pomegranates Howl attempts to turn that narrative on its head.
When Pomegranates Howl, written and directed by Moussavi, follows Hewad (Arafat Faiz), a 9-year-old boy working every day in the streets of Kabul to provide for his family. Hewad, whose brother and father were both ‘martyred’, does it tough, pushing rickety carts up steep streets that are laden with cracks and potholes. He tries to have whatever child-like fun he can along the way, but never forgets he has a younger sister at home who is now his responsibility.
Faiz, an untrained young actor, is outstanding and a delight to watch as the fast-talking, street-smart kid who works every angle, sees every chance, and seizes every day. He makes deals with anyone he can, in order to get ahead, and dreams of becoming a movie star. His biggest opportunity seems to come in the form of an Australian war photographer (Andrew Quilty).
Afghanistan is painted in a light not generally seen by western audiences, and it’s a welcome change. Seeing these people being happy in their culture, despite what is going on in society around them, is beautiful. The stunning cinematography (Behrouz Badrouj) with extended shots, follows Hewad up the roads and rough paths where he pushes his rickety cart. The story, which is based on true events that Moussavi heard about as an interpreter working in Australian immigration detention, while enlightening and fresh, is also completely heartbreaking, with that stunning conclusion leaving a sold-out cinema humbled, and completely silent.