This story begins in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 1989, toward the end of the war between the Soviet Union and Afghanistan, which began in 1979. Around the time the Soviet military begins to withdraw from Afghanistan, 15-year-old Qodrat lives in an abandoned car and makes a living by selling movie tickets on the black market in the streets of Kabul. One day, he gets caught by the police and brought to an orphanage. There, he makes friends and falls in love with a girl. Even in the orphanage, there are hierarchies, abuse, hostility between cliques, and other small and big issues, one of which is the death of a friend, who used to collect the ammo the Soviet army left behind, dying in an ammo explosion, but life is generally peaceful. However, when the Mujahideen replace the Soviet military, the lives of the children at the orphanage are completely uprooted.In the opening sequence of The Orphanage, Qodrat watches a Bollywood film at the theater where he sells movie tickets on the black market. As exciting music and action begin to take place in that film inside the film, the opening credits for The Orphanage start to roll in retro-style, blurring the boundary between the film and the film inside the film. The Orphanage is a coming-of-the-age story about boys and also a film about film. Fantastic scenes resembling those in Bollywood movies that crisscross Qodrat’s reality and fantasy are placed throughout the film, transforming tragic moments into magical ones. In particular, the kitschy music and scenes that unfold in the special moments of Qodrat’s life, such as the moment he falls in love, the moment he learns about the death of a friend, and the moment of his teacher’s death, overturn Qodrat’s sorrow that cannot be explained with realistic descriptions and emotions and the sad history of Afghanistan and lead to a shocking ending. (PARK Sun Young)
Sadat is an Afghan scriptwriter and director based in Kabul. There, she studied documentary filmmaking at the Atelier Varan Kabul, a French Workshop, and later in 2013, launched her production company, Wolf Pictures. Her feature, Wolf and Sheep, was made during her Cannes Cinéfondation Residency in 2010, when Sadat was 20 years old—the youngest ever selected. The film won C.I.C.A.E. award at Director’s Fortnight 2016. Her second feature film "The Orphanage" was presented at Director′s Fortnight in Cannes in 2019.