I didn’t have a chance to see Liz Mermin’s documentary The Beauty Academy of Kabul at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, but by all accounts it was characteristically insightful and beautiful. (Liz’s previous documentary On Sacred Ground, about abortion providers, is amazing, and I recommend it to all.) The Beauty Academy of Kabul is about American beauticians who go to set up beauty schools in Afghanistan after the fall of the Taleban. Here’s a BBC Four interview with Liz about the film.
“BBC Four: Was it the fact that it was New Yorkers going over to Kabul that attracted you, or the beauty school project itself?
L[iz] M[ermin]: I read a story about the project in the New York Times. The reason it jumped out at me was that at that point, 2002, the news was all so dire from that part of the world. This was such a bizarre human interest story and it seemed like such naive idealism. The idea of a group of well-intentioned Americans popping into Kabul and teaching woman about hair styles seemed irresistible. But when I started talking to them I saw the other side of it, the business development angle, and it seemed like less of a joke.”