The Celluloid Liberation Front, writing in the Brooklyn Rail, July 26th:
Of a completely different order, both political and aesthetic, were the films produced in the Soviet-occupied Afghanistan of the 1980s. What We Left Unfinished (2019) by Mariam Ghani tells their pretty incredible story, which starts, present day, at Afghan Films (the national film institute of Afghanistan), where the director first visited in 2011, and goes back to 1978, when a military coup put the communists in power and attracted “Russian attention.” Ghani’s extraordinary documentary stemmed from her efforts to preserve those films from deterioration, some of them having been archived but unfinished.
The fragments of films featured in the documentary make for a truly curious mix of action movie à la Chuck Norris and educational agitprop by Soviet Department for Agitation and Propaganda (at the very end of its political and creative line…). However imperfect and uncertain in its purpose, What We Left Unfinished is powerful enough to rouse a (fetishistic?) interest in a virtually unknown chapter of world cinema history. One where these two allegedly separate realms, cinema and history, cannot be individually considered.