Started in 2000 near the Afghan border in Iran and completed the following spring, this is one of Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s strangest films. An Afghan woman (Nelofer Pazira), exiled to Canada, goes home to look for her sister, who still suffers under the Taliban and has threatened to kill herself during a forthcoming solar eclipse. This may sound like a setup for action and suspense, but the narrative is much more splintered than that, combining poetry, black comedy, social protest, and a sharp sense of actuality. The acting is mainly horrendous and the English dialogue is frequently awkward, but they’re overcome by the beautiful colors and settings and a grim sense of the uncanny spilling over into twisted humor. I didn’t even mind when the narrative stopped abruptly; in retrospect, Kandahar seems like an experimental film, a horror story, and a slapstick comedysometimes all at once. In Farsi with subtitles; also known as The Sun Behind the Moon. 85 min. (JR)

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