Playing With Fire: Women Actors Of Afghanistan

A film by Anneta Papathanassiou

Greece | 2014 | 58 minutes | Color | DVD | Afghan (Dari), German) | Subtitled | Order No. 151147


In Afghanistan, women deciding to be actors make a dangerous choice. Banned under Taliban rule (1994-2001), Afghan theater is experiencing a comeback with many women at the forefront. But with powerful forces of Islamic fundamentalism, a resurgent Taliban, and patriarchal traditions in play, actresses often face the harshest criticism and are even sometimes viewed as prostitutes. Socially ostracized, and pressured to abandon their careers, they receive beatings and death threats for them and their family. Some are forced to flee the country and some are even killed.

PLAYING WITH FIRE introduces us to six courageous Afghan women who share their passions for acting, dreams, and difficult realities. They include Sajida, a student targeted by extremists; Monirah, besieged co-founder of an innovative women’s theater troupe; Tahera, forced into exile because of award-winning work at a theater festival; Roya, whose TV career brings her constant harassment; and Leena and Breshna, unprotected by their stage and motion picture fame.

Filmmaker Anneta Papathanassiou exposes pervasive erosions of Afghan women’s rights. Her timely, eye-opening documentary perfectly captures art’s transformative power and the dangers these courageous women face to do the work they love.


"***…the courage of these women in the arts is deeply inspiring. Recommended."

Video Librarian

"Playing with Fire shows how difficult it is to be an actress in Afghanistan, a country which disapproves of women on stage...The daring actresses in Afghanistan love their work so much they will do anything to be on stage."

The Huffington Post

"…an engaging documentary highlighting the work of fearless actresses in Afghanistan. The jury believes that this film will empower audiences. It will show us that both culture and women can change the world."

Thessaloniki International Film Festival

"The new documentary of Anneta Papathanassiou, is a courageous record of women’s lives.. [she]has perseverance and courage to make known something that is worthwhile."

Flix – Cinema Review


  • Int’l Film Awards Berlin, Honorable Mention
  • Greek London Film Festival, Best Documentary
  • International “Gold Panda” Awards for Documentary in China, Special Jury Award
  • Ierapetra International Documentary Film Festival, Best Documentary
  • Chalkida Docfest, Honorable Mention
  • Passion for Freedom Art Festival, London, Freedom Award Nomination
  • Thessaloniki Int’l Film Festival
  • FEMINA – Int’l Women’s Festival Brazil
  • South Asian Int’l Documentary Festival



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