Austin Film Festival Review: With This Breath I Fly
The plight of Afghan women abused by the [in]justice system
By Adrienne Hunter,
3:00PM, Sat. Oct. 23, 2021
From the inside of a prison in Afghanistan, Farida describes the violence she faced from her abusive husband before leaving him, and the drastic measures she had taken to no longer be subject to his violence, resulting in her being imprisoned. It is intimate moments like these that are centered in With This Breath I Fly.
The documentary follows the stories of Gulnaz and Farida, two women in prison for moral crimes. As the stories of these women are investigated, the film begins to question the complicity of the European Union in the violence of the Afghan justice system.
Shot over 10 years before the Taliban's recent military victories, the documentary excels in patiently capturing the heartbreaking journeys of Farida and Gulnaz. With two very different paths, directors Sam French and Clementine Malpas depict the complex contexts of the Afghan judicial system, religion, and family that allow the audience to understand the difficulty of these tragic situations.
Through powerful interviews, intimate moments and beautiful visuals, the documentary earns the attention of audiences through a high-stakes and emotionally heavy journey that is often impossible to predict where it will go next.
While at times it might feel like the film might lack a certain balance or focus in its juggling of the two narratives, it is more than made up for by how poignant the stories of these women are, and the intimate ways in which their stories are captured. While With This Breath I Fly is extremely hard to watch at times, it succeeds in investing audiences into their lives and plight.
With This Breath I Fly
Mon., Oct. 25, Noon, Galaxy Highland
Austin Film Festival, Oct. 21-28. Find all our news, reviews, and interviews at austinchronicle.com/austin-film-festival.