Documentary2001-2010AfghanistanHana MakhmalbafPolitics

Hana Makhmalbaf – Lezate divanegi AKA Joy of Madness (2003)

Shot on a digital video camera by the then 14-year-old Hana Makhmalbaf, Joy Of Madness is, in the words of its precociously talented young director, “a documentary on the surface but a feature film in essence.”
Partly it’s an idiosyncratic account of Hana’s elder sister Samira attempting to cast her own film, At Five In The Afternoon, with non-professionals in war-scarred Kabul in autumn 2002. It’s also a revealing portrait of a shattered society still traumatised by its experiences under the terrifying rule of the Taliban.

What connects the various characters in Joy Of Madness are their feelings of fear. An elderly mullah goes back on his agreement to Samira and her colleagues to play a cart-driver because he’s worried that his professional status will be affected, and that film itself is sinful. Meanwhile an impoverished gypsy family is convinced that the crew will kill their malnourished baby during the shoot. And the widowed teacher Agheleh, herself only 22 and whom Samira is determined to cast as the lead, writes a letter explaining why she feels she can’t take on the role: who will look after her three children and how will she be able to return to her previous job?

Joy Of Madness captures the determination, the persuasiveness, and the single-mindedness of the Makhmalbaf clan at work, with father Mohsen and stepmother Marziyeh Mehskini also part of a close-knit production team. Samira herself, who also directed The Apple and Blackboards, comes across as a volatile and demanding figure as she flatters, cajoles, and criticises those she seeks to cast. Mohsen reinforces her sales pitches by stressing to people how famous his daughter is in the world beyond Afghanistan (“a thousand newspapers have written about her”, he explains), and he’s the one asked to ensure the wavering Agheleh signs up to the project. But it’s Hana who deserves the credit for such a candid view of her own filmmaking family.
Tom [email protected]

2.80GB | 1h 10mn | 754×566 | mkv



  1. This is great! Thanks! If you by any chance have Hana Makhmalbaf’s Green Days / Rouzhaye Sabz (2009) with English subtitles that would be incredible. I’ve been searching for a copy of the film for ages and haven’t been able to find it on DVD or online. I found one link but, the link was dead and the webhost never responded to emails.

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