House of History Subtitled (Subtitled)
Duration: 00:20:08; Aspect Ratio: 1.366:1; Hue: 259.152; Saturation: 0.013; Lightness: 0.378; Volume: 0.303; Cuts per Minute: 10.030
Summary: Date: 1994-1996
Essay film shot by a group of AF cameramen between 1994 and 1995, chronicling the destruction of Kabul. Ends with a meditation on the ruins of the Dar ul-Aman palace and the Kabul Museum, and the efforts to save the fragments of artifacts left behind in its destruction.
Footage Source: DVCAM tape transfer
Translated by Asad and Rajni Prakash
Khan-e-Tarikh (House of History), made in the winter of 1996. An essay film directed by Qadir Taheri. Script by Sher Mohammed Khara. Many cameramen from Afghan Film are credited for the film, as it made extensive use of source material from the civil war. Credit Sequence in English and Dari.
This is probably the only documentary film produced by Afghan Film during that time. (1992-1996) Khoja Jaan (Kh. Ahmad Shah Sediqi) who did the negative cutting and timing, and who joins us in viewing and annotating the film, says that he had to cut the original negatives as there were no resources or money for duplicate negatives. "A very bad thing to do, but such were those times. And yet, Afghan Films never shut down. We came to work whenever we could," he remarks.
Taheri sourced much of this raw material from the Afghan Film archive. He then filmed some specific shots for the film, notably the aerial shots. Sher Mohammed Khara saw the edit first, and then wrote the narration.
Hussain Danish's Gozargah-e-Marg, (The Passage of Death, produced by RTA-Radio Television Afghanistan), also made during the civil war, was a direct inspiration for Taheri.
Aerial shot, old city, Kabul. Afghan Film sought permission from the Ministry of Defense who gave them access to the helicopter. 3 cameramen including the director Taheri, and Sarwaruddin, a cameraman who still works at Afghan Film, filmed the aerial shots.
Garment Stalls and shops for second-hand garments next to Pul-e-Khishti mosque. (Murad Khani)
Rockets fired from Charasiab distrtict of Logar province by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's group. 800 rockets were hitting Kabul everyday.
"What was interesting is that we were allowed to take the cameras home because it was hard to come to Afghan Film. That's what made it easier to film; when we needed to, we would go to a vantage point and film when we could see the rockets landing."
"We could not afford a car so we would film riding double-seat on a bicycle street by street. A lot of this footage is from around 1993."
L-R pan of the old city, quite destroyed.
There were 8 people killed by anonymous assassins in Khair Khana Kotal - Kabul City Centre.
Behind Sadr bazaar, Kabul. The house has been hit by a Scud, a few people have been killed and the neighbours are helping.
This is Wazir Akbar Khan hospital, where the wounded would be taken. There were too many to be taken care of. This was also shot by Sawaruddin, a cameraman who works here at Afghan Film.
This is Khoja jaan, negative cutter for this film, and also one of the people providing these text annotations. He says, "I was on my way to Afghan Film on my bicycle. This happened near Pul-e-Artal. I felt something hit me, and I fell down unconcious. I dont know who took me to hospital."
Images of dead civilians.
Behind Idgah mosque in the old city. People fleeing with meager possesions. They usually escaped to Khairkhana, but soon that area was also targeted. Rockets were coming from all directions, hitting all parts of Kabul.
This is near the park Zaar-negar in Kabul, more people fleeing.
Things were always tense. At one point the mortar and rockets were so intense that I could not leave my house for ten days. I had to stay in without food and water. And yet, through most of the Civil war of the nineties, Afghan Film stayed open. Infact we produced a Pashtu film. And there was another film we were working on in Dari called Oroudj
Central Post Office Kabul.
This wounded man was being taken to hospital. He was injured in an incident behind the Ministry of Education. He died on the way to the hospital and they were not allowed to film anymore because people were furious.
Masjid-e-kuwaitiha in Khushal-khan
Old City Kabul.
Aerial shots of Kabul.
Jadeh-e-Maiwand, Chaurahi-Sepahi Gumnaam. (square of the unknown soldier)
Jadeh Deh Mazang in ruins.
Aerial shots of Kabul. South Central Kabul, towards the University.
Bazaar Kotah-e-Sangi (Stone House)
Aerial shots. South West of Kabul, near Dar-ul-Aman.
Results of clashes between 2 Shiite groups. Harakat-e-Islami of Sheikh Asif Mohsini and Hizb-e-Wahdat (Unity Party) of Abdul Ali Mazari.
East of Kabul. Pul-e-charkhi prison and the Pohantun-e-Harbi. (military college.)
These bodies were in the basement of the medical faculty of Kabul University. People were killed by Hizb-e-Wahdat when they were occupying the university. The camera was allowed in when the Northern Alliance took control of this area. Amongst the dead, (skeletons recovered) was a woman and baby.
Exterior kabul university. Medical faculty
People in transit camps at a school in Khair Khana.
School in Khair Khana
Flour being distributed by local Afghan businessman in a transit camp.
Middle School in Sherpur in Kabul.
(Now the most affluent area in all of Kabul, stolen by land mafia, and now called sher-chor!)
Sherpur is a historic place. The Afghan resistence began from Sherpur. There is a British cemetery that still exists nearby.
Children are still going to school.
Abu-Al-Qasim Firdausi Lycee in Microrayan III.
Internally Displaced People (IDP) living on one side of the school campus.
Aerial shots of Taj Beg, filmed by the director Taheri himself.
Aerial shots - Dar-ul-Aman.
Interior shots of Dar-ul-Aman
Dome of the Dar-ul-Aman was bombed by the Northern Alliance. The rest of the palace was shelled from the TV mountain (Koh-e-Asmaee) and Zanburak mountain. Dar-ul-Aman Switched hands 3 times, was occupied by Hizb-e-Wahdat, then Nothern Alliance and eventually Hizb-e-Islami. Everyone had a hand in the destruction of Dar-ul-Aman.
Zoom out from the Kabul National Museum near Dar-ul-Aman. Shots of exteriors in ruins.
In Masood's time, in the time of the Northern Alliance the artefacts were moved to moved to the ministry of Information and Culture but were not looked after properly. And in the time of the Taliban some of them were taken out of Afghanistan, and sold. And what remained was broken by the Taliban.
This footage of the museum collection was filmed in 1973 -1974.
Herat Mosque. A "deg" with Calligraphy. The sound of a coin dropped in would resonate for over an hour.
Deputy Director of the Afghanistan Museum in the 1990's. He talks about the history of the museum. "Based on cultural needs the National Museum of Afghanistan was officially established in 1931 in the present location."
Prior to 1922, most of our national treasures were taken out by foreigners under different pretexts.
Where are all the sound recordings? Is there an archive of sound reels? There is, somewhere.
After realising that these historic treasures the country must be kept for the future generations the museum of Kabul was established.
It was from the metal age upto present times.
It was destroyed in the first year of the mujahid take-over of Kabul. (1991, 1371). The UN Habitat helped them in 1372 (1992) to recover what was left.
They took the practical steps to keep the Kabul museum safe by raising brick walls inside the museum to block entry. The museum workers performed their duties of restoration and recovery.
A commission was established by the workers of the museum to preserve the museum materials and they put them behind the ministry of information, for safekeeping.
These are the remains of the artefacts discovered in Farm Hadeh Jalalabad. Eastern Civilisation. 2nd -5th century AD.
Now even the site does not exist.
Save for these photos, nothing remains. Only dust and ashes. He's advising the viewers to keep these images in the mind. (archival images from the AF archive, filmed in the seventies.)
We call the period from 1978 to 2001 the lost history of Afghanistan. To date people dont know what exactly went on in those years. Images from the AF archive are therefore all the more important. Both newsreels and feature films chronicle and mirror what life, culture and politics was like in the past 40 years.