Enemies of Happiness

(Vores Lykkes Fjender)

A film by Eva Mulvad and Anja Al-Erhayem

Denmark | 2006 | 59 minutes | Color | DVD | Farsi, Pasthu | Subtitled | Order No. 07921


"In September 2005, Afghanistan held its first parliamentary elections in 35 years. Among the candidates for 249 assembly seats was Malalai Joya, a courageous, controversial 27-year-old woman who had ignited outrage among hard-liners when she spoke out against corrupt warlords at the Grand Council of tribal elders in 2003. ENEMIES OF HAPPINESS is a revelatory portrait of this extraordinary freedom fighter and the way she won the hearts of voters, as well as a snapshot of life and politics in war-torn Afghanistan.

Amidst vivid, poetic images of Joya's dusty Farah Province, the film tracks the final weeks of her campaign, when death threats restrict her movements. But the parade of trusting constituents arriving on her doorstep leaves no doubt that Joya is a popular hero. Among her visitors is a 100-year-old woman who treks two hours to offer loyalty and herbal medicine. King Solomon-style, Joya acts as folk mediator and advocate, adjudicating between a wife and her violent, drug-addicted husband and counseling a family forced to marry off their adolescent daughter to a much older man. Protected by armed guards, Joya heads to poor rural areas to address crowds of women, pledging to be their voice and ‘expose the enemies of peace, women, and democracy.’ In the presence of her fierce tenacity, we can imagine the future of an enlightened nation.” - Caroline Libresco, Sundance Film Festival


“Narrates the political trajectory of Joya skillfully … Highly recommended as a resource for discussions in Middle Eastern studies, gender studies, human rights, religious studies, and women’s studies.”

Educational Media Reviews Online

“A political documentary with a difference…quietly celebrates its heroine's fierce determination to reform her country's attitude toward women.”

Leslie Felperin Variety

“A powerful portrait…offers compelling evidence that it takes more than military might and diplomats to hold democratic elections in a country where few people know how to read or write and many say votes can be bought and sold.”

Eva Novrup Redvall FILM #53

“Eloquent...Joya is a controversial voice for a nation ruined by war and ruled by tradition, and a voice with a desperate urge for change.”

Göteborg Film Festival

“Carries the magic uplift of classic Hollywood and the considerable bonus of authenticity.”

Rob Nelson Village Voice

“Incredible…a character so compelling you don't want the camera to turn away.”

Brian Darr GreenCine Daily

“3 Stars. Recommended. Capture[s] Joya’s spirit and tenacity, while also showing the considerable obstacles that Afghan women continue to face… offers a much-needed reminder of what is taking place in that still-troubled country.”

Video Librarian

“Watching this politician interact with her constituents is a lesson in basic democracy, human rights and feminism.”

Curve Magazine


  • Sundance F F, World Cinema Prize: Documentary
  • Int’l Doc Fest Amsterdam (IDFA), Silver Wolf Award
  • Copenhagen Int’l Doc F F, Amnesty Award Nominee
  • Nestor Almendros Prize, Human Rights Watch F F
  • Silverdocs, Sterling Feature Special Jury Mention
  • Expresión En Corto Int'l F F, Best Int'l Doc
  • Den europeiske dokumentarfilmfestivalen, Norway
  • Documentary Fortnight, MoMA, NYC
  • Rencontres Internationales de Documentaire de Montreal
  • Broadcast on the PBS WIDE ANGLE series as “A Woman Among Warlords”
  • Newport Beach Film Festival
  • Human Rights Watch Int’l Film Festival
  • Jerusalem Int. Film Festival
  • Warsawa, Planete Doc Review, Poland 
  • Amakula Kampala International Film Festival
  • München Documentary Festival, Germany 
  • International Female Film Festival Malmö
  • Istanbul Int. Film Festival
  • Creteil, Festival Films De Femmes
  • Belfast Film Festival
  • Sao Paulo It's All True Int. Documentary FF
  • Hong Kong International Film Festival
  • The Royal Film Commission of Jordan
  • True/False Film Festival
  • One World Human Rights Film Festival, Czech Republic
  • ZagrebDox, Croatia
  • Mexico City Int’l Contemporary Film Festival
  • Helsinki Doc Point Documentary Film Festival
  • Female Film Festival Malmö
  • Danish National Museum
  • Toronto, Hot Docs Int. Documentary Festival
  • Thessaloniki Documentary Festival, Greece
  • Amnesty International Film Festival
  • Goteborg Film Festival
  • Women's Film Festival, VT
  • Seoul Women's Film Festival


Eva Mulvad

In 2011 Eva Mulvad (born 1972) won the prestigious, Danish Roos Award granted for her entire body of work. Mulvad graduated from the Danish Film School in 2001 and by 2006 she had her international break-through with ENEMIES OF HAPPINESS, which focused on the female politician Malalai Joya’s political campaign ahead of the first democratic elections in Afghanistan 2005. The film won the Silver Wolf Award at IDFA and subsequently the World Cinema Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.

With her intrinsic flair for drama and with many international awards in the baggage, Eva Mulvad is one of the most prominent Danish film-makers. Most recently Mulvad spent three years working on family-chronicle entitled THE GOOD LIFE (2010). The film was shown at IDFA and went on to win the award for Best Documentary at Kalovy Vary International Film Festival. (8/14)

Anja Al-Erhayem

Anja Al Erhayem is a Danish filmmaker with an Iraqi father and a Danish mother. Before the US-led invasion of Iraq, in 2002, Anja travelled to Iraq with her father to make a film about his family. The film, titled BACK TO BAGHDAD, showed unique footage of everyday life in Iraq under Saddam Hussein. The film itself has won a number of international prizes and after the war started, Anja went back to make a follow-up film, Dangerous Freedom, about life just after Hussein. In 2006, Al Erhayam directed and hosted six documentary and travel shows in the Middle East. She also co-directed ENEMIES OF HAPPINESS (2006). She is also the author of "The Sun Cries Over Baghdad."


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