Bharat Express

Egypt Diary-2: Reflecting on ‘Hollywood Gate’ – A Year After Taliban Seized Control In Afghanistan

He spent a year in Kabul, creating the film by closely following the newly appointed Air Force Commander Maulvi Mansoor and his radical companion M.J. Mukhtar.

Hollywood Gate

Hollywood Gate

The documentary “Hollywood Gate” by Ibrahim Nast has gained significant attention at the sixth Al Gouna Film Festival in Egypt, one year after the final withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan on August 30, 2021, and the establishment of Taliban rule on August 31. Born in Egypt, Ibrahim Nast now resides in Berlin, Germany, where the post-production of the film took place. He spent a year in Kabul, creating the film by closely following the newly appointed Air Force Commander Maulvi Mansoor and his radical companion M.J. Mukhtar.

Initially invited by the Taliban to make a propaganda film, Ibrahim Nast, a journalist by profession, found the documentary taking various directions as it unfolded. Some footage from the film, revealing unprecedented scenes, premiered at the Venice International Film Festival earlier this year.

“Hollywood Gate” refers to the CIA’s station outside Kabul, which had become, in a way, the headquarters of the U.S. military in Afghanistan. When the American forces left on August 30, it was discovered that nearly seven billion dollars worth of military equipment had been left behind, with most of it damaged due to sabotage. Commander Maulvi Mansoor’s immediate task is to somehow repair fighter jets and Black Hawk helicopters.

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While the Taliban generally view journalists as foreign spies, Ibrahim Nast was granted permission to make the film, albeit with a warning that if anything went wrong, he would be taken outside and shot. Speaking to the audience, he mentioned facing moments where he believed he might not leave alive.

Commander Maulvi Mansoor aims to have everything in order before the first anniversary of coming to power on August 31, 2022. He desires to showcase his fighter jets in the Independence Day parade for Afghanistan’s new Prime Minister, Hibatullah Akhundzada. They establish an aviation academy in Airbase where commanders can receive training in flying. Their plan includes launching an attack on neighboring Tajikistan.

One scene shows Taliban commanders in a mountain cave where they hid from American airstrikes. A commander expresses a wish that there had been an American soldier here so that he could have become a martyr by killing him. However, the dilemma arises as the American forces are gone, and seeking revenge for his father and brother, who were killed in a U.S. airstrike, becomes uncertain. At Baghram Airbase, soldiers parade with suicide bomb vests, feeling defeated as their fate is unclear.

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The entire film lacks any female presence, reflecting the Taliban’s strict enforcement of Islamic laws, excluding women from administration, the military, and public life. Despite the horrifying circumstances, the film portrays a world without women, except for glimpses of a newsreader in a burqa on television. In one scene, examining bundles of expired medicines, Commander Maulvi Mansoor is informed that their doctors have become lazy, and he regrets his wife, who had to leave her medical profession to fulfill the conditions for marrying him.

The film presents a terrifying reality where everything revolves around the barrel of a gun, and the sight of ruthless fighters brandishing Russian Kalashnikov machine guns like toys creates a nightmarish atmosphere. The absence of women intensifies the horror, making it clear that without them, the scene becomes a dystopian nightmare.