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Controversial Afghan pop star and activist Aryana Sayeed mentors young hopefuls as they prepare to appear on their country’s hit TV show Afghan Star. With two young women on the verge of being named the show’s first ever female winners, the Taliban take over and their lifelong dreams of becoming pop stars are suddenly under threat.


For 13 straight seasons, Afghanistan’s hit TV show Afghan Star, a hugely popular American Idol-style singing contest, has never had a female winner. But that is about to change. When the controversial feminist Afghan pop star Aryana Sayeed takes on mentorship of two young hopefuls - female singers Zahra Elham and Sadiqa Madadgar –  she works to push the national conversation around women’s rights and the value of women’s contributions to society. Facing death threats for their costume choices or song lyrics, the female contestants make strides towards the final episode – slowly winning over the hearts of the public. As Aryana plans an enormous national pop concert, the Taliban suddenly returns to power – reversing 20 years of progress for women. As each artist suddenly must decide to stay with their families or try to escape the country they love – Afghan-Canadian filmmaker Fazila Amiri’s film is a call to action to support the activists continuing to stand up for women’s rights in Afghanistan.  



Fazila Amiri


Fazila Amiri (she/her) is an Afghan Canadian director and screenwriter based in Toronto, ON, Canada. She holds an MFA in Film Production from York University and a BFA in Film Studies from NSCAD University. Her films explore social issues, women's rights, and youth culture in her native Afghanistan. Her first feature documentary, AND STILL I SING screened at international film festivals, including the 2022 Hot Docs Festival, Sheffield Doc Fest, Doc Edge Festival, Sydney Film Festival, and it's the winner of the 2022 Best Music Documentary Feature at Nashville Film Festival.

Lesley Johnson


Lesley Johnson (she/her) is a flmmaker whose work focuses on intimate stories that connect personal transformation with environment and culture. She holds an MFA in Film Production from York University, is an alumnus of RIDM’s Talent Lab, the Documentary Institute’s Breakthrough Program and Sundance’s Documentary Collab program. Her projects have appeared on CBC and been selected for TIFF and Canada’s Top Ten. Lesley released I Hold the Dehcho in My Heart / Sedze Tah Dehcho E’toh (2018) on CBC Docs, and won the NWT Professional Media Association’s award for Best Documentary. Her short flms Princess Jack (2016) and Charlie (2018), have won awards, such as the NSI’s BlueAnt Best Documentary Award and screened at numerous festivals including BFI Flare, Inside Out, and TIFF’s “Share Her Journey” program. Her latest documentary, Revolution Moosehide, is currently in festivals.