Review of “Enemies of Happiness” by filmmaker Eva Mulvad

Enemies of Happiness

Denmark 2006, 58 min

Director Eva Mulvad

If you received constant threatening messages and therefore had to constantly change your house, survived four assassination attempts and had to face defamation campaigns, would you still run for parliamentary elections? If you were Afghanistan’s Malalai Joya you would!

Using fly on the wall method, Danish filmmaker Eva Mulvad invites us to accompany “The most famous woman in Afghanistan” as BBC described Joya in her nerve-wracking campaign in 2005. What makes the campaign all the more important is that it’s the first parliamentary elections in Afghanistan in 35 years and the first elections in which Afghani women were allowed to vote.

 But the film is not only about Joya. Mulvad sheds light on the effects of the continuous war and worn out traditions on the people of Afghanistan in general and women in particular. We are introduced to a woman who is forced to leave her children or else endure the abuse of a drug addict, aggressive husband, and a teenage girl who is being forced into marrying an 80 year old murderer, opium dealer with 2 wives and 13 children because he has weapons and is threatening her family to kill her and them otherwise!

She unveils a harsh reality in which men dance in bullet rain, grandmothers are raped, people are burned in containers and a candidate for the parliamentary elections can’t go anywhere without the protection of armed soldiers.

But viewers be aware, there’s no sob story here! Enemies of Happiness is the story of a 28 year-old woman who had the courage to stand up for her rights in a conservative country which is ruled by aggression like Afghanistan and won the second largest number of votes from her nation. It is a peerless example of how women, even if covered in burkahs, can achieve their own freedom.

Published in Point of View Dox Box Documentary Film Festival’s daily bulletin. To download the daily bulletin in both Arabic and English click here