”In Her Hands” with Tamana Ayazi & Marcel Mettelsiefen


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When filmmakers Tamana Ayazi (making her feature doc debut) and Marcel Mettelsiefen (“Watani: My Homeland”) set out in early 2020 to shoot a film about the new generation of young, well-educated Afghans, they knew they wanted to find a strong woman to tell this story. Instead, they encountered a force of nature: Zarifa Ghafari, the 26-year-old mayor of Maidan Shahr, who was not only one of Afghanistan’s first female mayors, but also its youngest. Tamana and Marcel’s thought-provoking, insightful and impassioned new Netflix documentary “In Her Hands” is Zarifa’s story, but it also opens its lens to track a much broader and more tragic narrative. Over the course of 19 months of filming, the filmmakers witnessed the end of one dream for Afghanistan and the rise of its polar opposite.

Tamana and Marcel joined Ken on “Top Docs” to discuss Zarifa, her courageous struggles on behalf of the people of Maidan Shahr and the eventual triumph of the Taliban. How did this team of two directors — one from Afghanistan, the other from Germany — combine forces and eventually get to the point where they could practically read each other’s minds? Why did the search for a strong secondary character solve one dilemma but lead to yet another? And, as a female director filming with the Taliban, what were the special challenges and quandaries that Tamana faced? A story with many twists and turns, “In Her Hands” shows that, in any given situation in Afghanistan, the answers may be just beyond one’s grasp.

Hidden Gems:

Tamana: Facing the Dragon

Marcel: The Distant Barking of Dogs

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“In Her Hands” premieres globally on Netflix on November 16.

The Presenting Sponsor of "Top Docs" is Netflix.

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