Cut from Different Cloth: Burqas & Beliefs (2005)
In 2005 filmmakers Olga Shalygin and Cliff Orloff returned to Afghanistan’s northern city of Mazar-I-Sharif for the third time since the fall of the Taliban in 2002.
Despite a growing network of Afghan friends and colleagues from their two prior visits, they had been restricted in their ability to meet freely with Afghan women.
The all-covering burqa, the high-walled living compounds and cultural restrictions on women limited their access. Olga, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist, was puzzled why virtually all the Afghan women she saw still wore the burqa…even though security had greatly improved and a new constitution was adopted that granted women equal rights with men.
Through Serena, a 27-year-old American woman, who is living with an Afghan family and their 27-year-old daughter Hasina, we are taken inside the walls that separate women from men. Serena becomes the eyes and ears of the filmmakers.
Together, Serena, Hasina and Olga set out on a journey to learn what it means to be a woman in today’s Afghanistan. As their journey progresses, Serena’s desire to respect Afghan culture and tradition comes into conflict with her belief in universal rights for women. From interviewing child brides to women in prison, Serena comes to understand the risks Hasina and other Afghan women take to assert their rights.