Afghan Star
Afghan Star

Afghan Star

Director Havana Marking

Production year 2009

Length 88min.

Country UK


After 30 years of war and Taliban rule, pop culture has returned to Afghanistan. Millions are watching Afghan Star - a Pop Idol-style TV series in which people from across the country compete for a cash prize and record deal. 2000 people audition, including three brave women. The viewers vote for their favorite singers by mobile phone and for many this is their first encounter with democracy. This timely and inspired film follows the moving stories of four young contestants looking for a new life. But their journeys take a terrifying turn as one young woman dances on stage, threatening her own safety and the future of the show itself. In Afghanistan you risk your life to sing.


Audience Award, Directing Award | Sundance IFF, USA, 2009


Havana Marking
Havana Marking



Mike Lerner


Havana Marking

Director of Photography

Phil Stebbing

Music by

Simon Russell


Ash Jenkins

Production company(ies)

Roast Beef Productions 22 Denmark Street WC2H 8NG

Havana Marking

Born 1972, London) Afghan Star is Havana Marking’s first feature documentary, shot over the 4 months in Kabul. Before this film she directed The Crippendales (2007) - a about the first troupe of disabled strippers. In 2005, she made the Great Relativity Show, a series of animated shorts that explained the Theory of Relativity. These won a Pirelli Science Award. Before 2005, while she was TV producing, she worked on some of the most successful UK formats and films. Havana is also a respected journalist with articles printed in the Guardian and Observer newspapers. Redstart Media is her own production company.


The Crippendales (2007), Afghan Star (2009), Smash and Grab (2013).

FILMS 2014