Nafas (Niloufar Pazira) is a reporter who was born in Afghanistan, but fled with her family to Canada when she was a child. However, her sister wasn't so lucky; she lost her legs to a land mine while young, and when Nafas and her family left the country, her sister was accidentally left behind. Nafas receives a letter from her sister announcing that she's decided to commit suicide during the final eclipse before the dawn of the 21st century; desperate to spare her sister's life, Nafas makes haste to Afghanistan, where she joins a caravan of refugees who, for a variety of reasons, are returning to the war-torn nation. As Nafas searches for her sister, she soon gets a clear and disturbing portrait of the toll the Taliban regime has taken upon its people.

An absolute eye-opener.

Nafas (Niloufar Pazira) left Afghanistan when she was young and has lived ever since in Canada, where she works as a journalist. Her sister was left behind in Kandahar, as she lost her legs in a landmine explosion during the escape. In a recent letter from her, Nafas has learnt that she is suicidal. Desperate to get to Khandahar to prevent the suicide, but unable because of her status as an exile to travel legally, Nafas has come to the Iran-Afghan border to try to make the journey illegally. After a flight in a Red Cross chopper, she persuades an elderly tribal man to let her pose as one of his wives as they journey into the Taliban-ruled country, but there is really no-one she can trust, and in a country where women are third-class citizens Nafas is in constant danger.

Made about two years ago, long before the current war in Afghanistan, Kandahar is an angry attack on the Taliban regime from one of Iran's most respected directors, Mohsen Makhmalbaf. The director, using non-professional actors, depicts a country where women are forced to wear the burkha; where girls aren't allowed to attend school; where boys are taught the Koran one moment and how to use a Kalashnikov the next; where a doctor isn't allowed to examine, or even to talk directly to, a female patient. It's a surreal world where amputees, the victims of land mines, wait for artificial limbs to drop from the sky, but it's a rigid and frightening world, too.

Iranian films have often dealt with Afghan characters and Afghani problems, but Makhmalbaf's extraordinary road movie is unique in its depiction of the evils of a regime run by ultra extremists.