Nafas (Nelofer Pazira), a journalist raised in Afghanistan but living in exile in Canada, decides to return to her war-torn homeland after her sister, who lost both legs in a landmine explosion, writes in a letter that she intends to commit suicide in Kandahar during the last eclipse of the twentieth century. This courageous young woman joins a poor refugee family traveling in a three-wheeled van. After they are attacked in the robbers, the family turns back to Iran.
Nafas, who wears a traditional burka that covers her body from head to toe, then hires Khak (Sadou Teymouri), a young boy, to serve as her guide. This resourceful youth has been kicked out of a Taliban-run school where mullahs teach a perverted blend of the Koran and preach violence against all enemies.
Eventually, Nafas meets Tabib Sahid (Hassan Tantaï), an expatriate African-American posing as a doctor in a village. He is using primitive treatments for patients suffering from colds, hunger, and malaria. As he tells her: "Weapons are the only modern things in Afghanistan." They journey together to an International Red Cross camp where amputees are awaiting new limbs. In one of the most unforgettable scenes, men on crutches race across the desert to retrieve pairs of artificial legs being parachuted down to them from a Red Cross airplane.
Nafas picks up another guide who manages to have them secretly join a large group of women in a wedding procession. Stopped by a Taliban patrol, we feel the fear of all these women.
Iranian writer and director Mohsen Makhmalbaf is an extraordinary spiritual filmmaker best known across the world for Gabbeh, a parabolic drama about gypsy life. He has also written the screenplays for two films about the plight of women in the modern Islamic Republic of Iran: The Day I Became a Woman and The Apple.
"There are times in life," Jean Gisno has stated, "when a person has to rush off in pursuit of hopefulness." That is exactly what Nafas, the narrator of this timely drama does. Makhmalbaf gives us plenty to carry in our hearts and prayers the suffering of the poor and starving refugees, the plight of the victims of landmines, and the indignities of the women in Afghanistan.
The DVD edition includes a featurette called “Lifting the Veil,” about the life of actress Nelofer Pazira, plus an audio commentary in which she talks candidly about her experiences and her efforts to help the people of Afghanistan. There are also cast and crew biographies and a stills gallery; an interview with director Mohsen Makhmalbaf and an essay by Nelofer Pazira are printed on the inside of the jacket cover.