Afghan Star film follows Idol series that’s “facilitating social change” in Afghanistan

Afghan Star, Afghanistan’s popular version of Idol, is in its fifth season, and is just like the talent competition in other countries, except this one is affecting social change, and could also be fatal to its participants. A documentary of the same name about the show is currently in theaters, and will air on HBO in 2010, the network announced Monday.

The film is now playing in theaters around the country, with debut dates that stretch from this summer to November. The documentary has been extremely well-reviewed and won audience favorite and best director awards at Sundance in the world documentary competition.

In this trailer, the similarities (judges at a table, singing auditioners) and differences (one man interviewed says a female contestant “deserves to die” for appearing on the show) between it and other international versions are quite evident:

Earlier this summer, the series’ and documentary executive producer Saad Mohseni appeared on The Daily Show, and said the TV show is “facilitating social change” because 11 million people watched. Afghan Star, he said, is “our way of resisting the conservative elements in our society. This is how things change.”

Watch that interview:

Afghan Star [Zeitgeist Films]

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.