Frame By Frame
Kabul, Afghanistan
Farzana Wahidy photographs  Afghan women
Najibullah Musafer at home
Wakil Kohsar explores Kabul's underbelly
Najibullah Musafer and a photo studen
Wakil Kohsar

Frame By Frame

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    • Directed by: Alexandria Bombach & Mo Scarpelli
    • Produced by: Alexandria Bombach & Mo Scarpelli
Released: 2016 Educational release 
Running Time: 85 min 
Language:  English with English Subtitles 

When the Taliban ruled Afghanistan, taking a photo was a crime. After the regime fell from power in 2001, a fledgling free press emerged and a photography revolution was born. Now, as foreign troops and media withdraw, Afghanistan is left to stand on its own, and so are its journalists. Set in a modern Afghanistan bursting with color and character, FRAME BY FRAME follows four Afghan photojournalists as they navigate an emerging and dangerous media landscape – reframing Afghanistan for the world, and for themselves. Through cinema vérité, intimate interviews, powerful photojournalism, and never-before-seen archival footage shot in secret during the Taliban regime, the film connects audiences with four humans in the pursuit of the truth.


Awards & Selections

SXSW - World Premiere

HotDocs - Top Ten Audience Favorite

AFI Docs - Official Selection

Ashland Independent Film Festival - Audience Award

BFI London - Grierson Award Nominee

Camden Int'l Film Festival - Best Documentary

Highly Recommended by Video Librarian

"Although 15 years have passed since U.S.-led military forces invaded and occupied Afghanistan, it often seems that very little progress has been made in the nation’s movement away from Taliban-era oppression towards a 21st-century concept of a modern republic. Filmmakers Alexandria Bombach and Mo Scarpelli’s documentary details how the concept of a free Afghani press is struggling to take root here, profiling four local photojournalists—including Farzana Wahidy and her Pulitzer Prize-winning husband Massoud Hossaini—as they face skepticism, hostility, and threatened violence while trying to document events in a country that is caught in an endless struggle between forces that want to maintain a rigid Islamic theocracy and those trying to inch Afghanistan towards becoming a progressive state where a spirited independent press can operate without fear of reprisal. Considering that very little current news from Afghanistan is relayed via the U.S. media, Frame by Frame offers an invaluable, albeit also harrowing, glimpse into a nation that doesn’t seem to have benefited much from the occupation by U.S. and European forces. Indeed, the Afghanistan captured here by the photojournalists appears to be very much locked in a Taliban mind-frame. Highly recommended. Aud: C, P. (P. Hall)" - Video Librarian

Reviews / Quotes:

"Astonishing" - Slate 

"Sensitive" - Filmmakers Magazine 

"FRAME BY FRAME is a bracing tribute to the power of photojournalism… The filmmakers are attuned to the work-day camaraderie and competitive spirit that drive their thoughtful subjects. And like the four photojournalists, they have an eye for beauty as well as a nose for news, capturing scenes of unexpected lightness: an open-air pop concert, a paddleboat ride on a glass-smooth lake. FRAME BY FRAME is a work of profound immediacy, in sync with the photographers’ commitment and hope.”  - The Hollywood Reporter 

"An indispensable visual history… As the camera follows the quartet in their daily lives, and as they share stories from their past — the very stories that inform their gaze and shape their voice — a larger layered narrative emerges; that of a disrupted nation.” - TIME Lightbox

"“[The film] pays tribute to the power of the still photographic image and its ability to change perceptions.” - BBC Culture