When Kabul Sings 2018

Director: Sahra Mosawi | Documentary | 52 / 90 min.

Music was forbidden during the extremist Taliban regime. Many of Afghanistan’s musicians flee abroad. Afghanistan’s arts and culture scene was stalled for years to come. But, new songs are being sung.

2009 Dr. Ahmad Sarmast, a visionary musician and the first Afghan with a doctorate in music, founded the Afghanistan National Institute of Music – a school under constant threat of Taliban and ISIS attacks.

The students come from poor families, many working on the streets selling gums, balloons or washing cars. Taking their financial strain into account, the school pays what the kids would have earned. The students study and join an ensemble – setting off on their own musical journey.

This story of music and courage is told by Afghan girls; Zohra, the first and only all women orchestra in Afghanistan. They toured Europe, performed at the World Economic Forum in Davos and won of the Freemuse Award 2017. Arriving home at Hamid Karzai Airport in Kabul, hundreds of people – women, men, artists, intellectuals and academics greet them. It becomes clear that these young girls have the power to change the attitude of a very conservative society. 2018 the Afghanistan National Institute of Music is nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Their stories reveal their families’ courage and Afghanistans’ challenging path to modernity. Not bombs, soldiers or Taliban but joyful girls singing a universal language – a new vision for Afghanistan.


Sahra Mosawi


Jürgen Kleinig