James Longley reveals that, Angels Are Made of Light

August 3, 2019

“Teachers rescue humanity from the darkness of ignorance
…Teachers pull us out of darkness into the light.”

This was Sohrab’s dedication to his teachers on World Teachers Day. At the intersection of hope and despair, Academy Award nominated director James Longley introduces us to Sohrab, Rostam and Yaldash. The three brothers are our guides through Kabul, and a broader picture of contemporary life in Afghanistan emerges from there.Soaked in natural light, Longley meets the boys at eye level in an aesthetic that’s closer to fiction than documentary. The soft depth of field leads audiences to attach a certain importance to the civilian in-focus. The brothers rarely make direct eye contact with Longley’s lens, as voice-over from studio-recorded interviews pulls the narrative forward.

The present-day portraits are interrupted at half hour intervals with grainy archival footage from 20th century Afghanistan. Through the past, we obtain a more nuanced understanding of the present. Locals articulate a desire for sectarian unity, after decades of armed conflict.

Education is one of the films central tenants. Taking its title from one of Sohrab’s lessons in theology, Longley presents a two-fold opportunity to learn. We see that education empowers Afghan youth, while the film in itself can serve a pedagogical function for Western audiences unfamiliar with civilian life in Kabul.

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