Asian Cinema Fund 2018

2015 Projects

2015 Script Development Fund Projects

Project The Orphanage
Category Asian Project
Project The Orphanage
Director Shahrbanoo SADAT
Country Afghanistan / Denmark
Director's Profile Shahrbanoo Sadat is a young Afghan filmmaker. She is based in Kabul, Afghanistan. Sadat studied documentary in "Atelier Varan Kabul" a French Documentary Workshop in 2009. Her first short fiction Vice Versa One was selected at Directors' Fortnight, Cannes Film Festival in 2011 and shown at MOMA. She made Not At Home, a hybrid project that was developed and produced within a year under the Copenhagen International Documentary Film Festival's initiative DOX:LAB and was selected for the International Film Festival Rotterdam 2014. In 2013, she opened her own production company "Wolf Pictures" in Kabul. At the moment, she is in preproduction for her first feature film Wolf and Sheep. Shooting took place in May 2015 in Afghanistan. The film was developed with the Cannes Cinefondation Residency in 2010, Shahrbanoo was 20 years old at the time - the youngest ever selected for the residence.
The Russian orphanage was established in Kabul in 1981 and closed in 1992. Russia and the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan supported the orphanage. Thousands of children lived there. Children belong to different ethnicities and came from different parts of Afghanistan; each has their own story. The orphanage has its own rules. Zahir Khan is the director of the dormitory and repeats the rules every afternoon. Children cannot leave the orphanage, but sometimes they escape the orphanage. If Zahir Khan finds it out, he will punish them in public by flogging them with a stick that is always carried in his left hand. On Fridays family and relatives can visit the children. It’s so boring and depressed for the children who has no visitors. Aslodin, Amin, Jawed, Asef and Saeed become friends as they share a room and later find themselves as classmates. A boy called Yusof comes to the orphanage and joins their group. The orphanage takes some of the children to Russia for summer vacations, it is the first time children visit another country. They fly in an airplane for the first time, eat exotic food, drink alcohol, and some find Russian girlfriends. They get back to Afghanistan. The life is continuing till the Mujahideen kicks the Russian forces out of Afghanistan. A tribal civil war starts in Kabul and 69,000 civilians are killed. One of the tribes occupies the orphanage after the teachers leave the orphanage and children all alone. The older children have to take care of others. Many of them are killed, many of them are injured, and many of them join their family tribes to fight against other groups. The children have no one to take care of them and they have to find their food by themselves. Life is not easy in the orphanage under the constant hail of bullets and rockets. The orphanage tells the story of children in the worse times of Afghanistan.
Director's Note
The Orphanage is a story based on Yusof’s real life. He lived in the orphanage between 1984-1992 and left when he was 12 years old. Yusof shared 800 pages of his diary with me 4 years ago. When I read Yusof’s diary, it was like reading the history of Afghanistan, but the viewpoint of a child made it evermore touching. I found the orphanage story a very beautiful but painful story about children in a country like Afghanistan. Children, who have no one who takes care of them. Everyone around them leaves; however, the children have to stay where they are. The orphanage transforms into a military base. They have to live and survive in a hail of bullets and rockets. It is a story about children as well as a political story about a country that is unable to understand or solve the turmoil around it. The cast consists of children from orphanages in Kabul and children who work on the streets. I imagine The Orphanage as a fiction film with documentary elements. I am interested to shoot the film in Plan Sequence and cut in between in the edit or take the entire take. I would like to shoot with a handheld camera. The story happens between 1981-1992 in Kabul and is mostly film inside the orphanage. I would like to go by each year and chronologically portraying one of the children.
Still Cut