Monday October 12, 2009 at 10 pm ET/PT on CBC News Network
After 30 years of war and the Taliban, pop culture has returned to Afghanistan. Afghan Star-a Pop Idol-style TV series-is searching the country for the next generation of music stars. But in Afghanistan, to sing, or even participate, means risking your life.
Afghan Star is an award-winning documentary that reveals the hopes and dreams of Afghan youth—their desire for peace and the freedom to express themselves.
More than 2,000 people audition for a chance to compete. But in a troubled country like Afghanistan, even music is controversial. Considered sacrilegious by some, and banned by the Taliban when they ruled, music has come to symbolize freedom for the youth.
Millions of people watch the show and vote for their favourite singers using their cell phones. For many, this is their first exercise in democracy—a radical idea in a country still based on a male-dominated, tribal system. Suddenly, young people, ethnic minorities and women have an arena in which to shine and everyone gets to vote.
This one-hour documentary follows three young contestants from their top-ten finish to the final contest in Kabul. The main story belongs to Setara, a 21-year-old singer from Herat. Her modern fashion, Bollywood makeup and movement on stage have made her a controversial figure; adored by young girls, hated by elders. When she finally dances on stage and lets her headscarf slip, there's pandemonium.Backstage at Afghan Star
Setara's story becomes chilling as she fears for her life and has to go into hiding. At the same time, the series itself and its producers are threatened.
Recently, Daoud Sediqi, the charismatic host of the TV show Afghan Star, who inspired millions and sought to "move people from guns to music", fled to the United States and was granted asylum due to Taliban threats.