Afghan Star has its local premiere tonight at CMA

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A documentary about an American Idol-like TV program that's become hugely popular in Afghanistan, Afghan Star screens tonight at 7 and at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 18 at the Cleveland Museum of Art Lecture Hall. Here is our review of the movie.

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Afghan Star (US/Afghanistan, 2009) Much like American Idol, Afghan Star is a TV program that pits aspiring young pop singers against each other; popular vote determines the winners. Unlike American Idol, Afghan Star takes place in a country that’s been ripped apart by war. This difference is not lost upon director Havana Marking, who focuses more on the country’s fragile political structure than on the contest itself (probably a wise choice). While both fans and contestants state Afghan Star wouldn’t have happened under Taliban rule, the show’s not without its controversy. When one woman dances during her performance, she gets death threats and is evicted from her apartment. But when three contestants from different ethnic backgrounds emerge as the finalists, fans put aside their regional allegiances to vote for their favorite, suggesting the show does represent a kind of democratic breakthrough. And with one third of the country’s population watching the finale, Marking convincingly suggests the program unites citizens in a way that political leaders haven’t. At 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 16, and 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 18. *** (Jeff Niesel)

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