Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Oscar & BAFTA wins: Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You're a Girl) - Afghanistan

There are several posts on this website about the remarkable Skateistan. Founded in 2008 in Kabul, it runs skateboarding and creative education programs for over 2,800 children in Afghanistan, Cambodia and South Africa.

Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl) won the 2020 BAFTA for British Short Film and the 2020 Oscar for Best Short Documentary.

Skateistan is the focus of the documentary film, which was shot in Kabul and produced by Grain Media for A & E Networks. The film follows a group of girls who are attending the "Back to School" program at Skateistan to help them enter or rejoin formal education.

The Skate School is seen as a refuge from the dangers and insecurity of life outside its walls. The film shows the interaction between the girls and their female teachers, some of whom are former Skateistan students, and the bonds that are created between women and girls in challenging environments.

It is fitting that the film was shot with an entirely female crew, on location in Kabul in 2017. It was directed by Carol Dysinger and produced by Elena Andreicheva. Afghanistan is consistently ranked as one of the worst places in the world to be a girl, but the film shows another side to life and childhood in Kabul.

We see the girls in the classroom at Skateistan, being guided by their teachers who encourage them to be brave by coming to the board. They tell stories to each other, joke around and clap each other when they get things right.

In the skatepark, they watch their educator in awe as she demonstrates her skills, before getting on the boards themselves and helping each other to balance.

Australian Oliver Percovich, who founded Skateistan in Kabul in 2008, said:

"We are delighted that Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone has won these awards. We see so many negative stories about Afghanistan and this is a story of real hope which can help to challenge perceptions. Here at Skateistan, we’re firm believers that when girls and women are empowered, they can achieve great things. That’s what is demonstrated so well in this film - the story of a group of girls who are defying expectations in Afghanistan, being told by an all-female film crew and getting the recognition it deserves." 

Watch the inspiring 1-minute trailer below. [If the video clip does not appear on your device, please go directly to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ILmuqWCe2Yc] 

Update: Listen to Oliver Perovich's interview on ABC radio about Skateistan.  It's 18 minutes and was recorded 5 April 2020.

Related posts:
White Silk Road - Snowboarding Afghanistan
Skateistan: Kabul's Skate School Turns Five
Skateistan - Empowering Afghan Youth Through Skateboarding  
Duke Ellington's Kabul Gig 1963