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Home Reviews Raindance 2011 Raindance Review: Where My Heart Beats
Raindance Review: Where My Heart Beats Print E-mail
Written by Ivan Radford   
Sunday, 09 October 2011 06:22

"Where do you come from?" That's the question Khazar Fatemi is trying to answer. A Swedish citizen born in Iran and raised in Afghanistan, Khazar's parents fled her birthplace when they were put on a death list for dissidence. Returning to her childhood home for the first time in 20 years, she takes us on an emotional journey through a country full of voiceless victims.

It's never easy watching the stories of lives ruined by war. Walls riddled with holes and trees hit by explosions are just the physical symptoms as businesses and families suffer tragic losses at the hands of regimes and conflict. But Khazar's story gives things a personal perspective - she sees old classmates and neighbours, and returns to childhood places with a different viewpoint (literally in one bakery she visits, which has a high surface she never used to be able to see as a kid), and that heightens the emotional impact of the powerful images on screen.

And yet the documentary's presentation causes problems. At first, it's narrated by Khazar, whose personal reflections introduce the film's themes and locations. Then, suddenly, her voice disappears and text is used to link the events for half the movie. It's a small but vital thing - statistics that appear silently are shocking to read (10,000 Afghani people been killed since 2005), but the inconsistent bridging between scenes starts to alienate the audience from Khazar's poetic journey.

At times, her video tapes are - unsurprisingly - confiscated (they're advised to stay no more than 30 minutes in any one place for fear of police or kidnapping), but the lack of footage at other points leaves some sad holes in the piece. The documentary remains moving and engaging (shots of children allow for a more hopeful ending) but Where My Heart Beats winds up just slightly too detached to be fully effective - a shame, given the highly personal nature of the project.

Still, this remains one of the most thoughtful representations of Afghanistan's forgotten people to date, and as such should be seen by all those only used to seeing British soldiers on the news.