Initiated in July of 2001, Pashtun filmmaker Vida Zaher Khadem's documentary about her brother's return to their homeland of Afghanistan takes on deeper meaning than she ever suspected when the male-dominated society of her Taliban-controlled country - including her own family - objects to her role as an independent filmmaker. Vida's brother Baktash was born in Afghanistan and educated in America. After training as a pilot, overseas, however, he begins to feel as if he has lost his roots. When Vida decided to return to Afghanistan to explore their family tree, even her own uncle tried to dissuade her from overstepping her gender boundaries and assuming the role of director. Later, while traveling to the remote villages of her family tribes, Vida was frequently forced to wait in the car while the men in her crew captured their footage. A mere four weeks after returning to the United States, the film crew was witness to one of the most ferocious terrorist attacks in modern history. Realizing that since the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks were based in Afghanistan the American authorities will likely seek her crew out for questioning, the filmmakers immediately make copies of all of their footage and quickly contact the FBI - who in turn use that footage to learn more about the political and social structures in Afghanistan. Shortly thereafter, Jawad Wassel, Vida's mentor and cinematographer in Afghanistan, is murdered while attempting to complete his own film FireDancer. In the aftermath of that tragedy, Vida sets aside her own film and convinced producer John C. Roche to help her finish FireDancer, which would subsequently become Afghanistan's first ever submission to the Academy Awards. Return to Afghanistan is not just the story of a man's return to his roots, but a far reaching meditation on one woman's quest to remain faithful to her family while railing against a society governed by rules she detests, and attempting to maintain her balance while caught up in a war between the East and the West.
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