The Forbidden Reel

Jonathan Saruk

In a nondescript concrete building along a busy street in the old city of Kabul, young men file into a dark, smoke-filled theater and take their seats. Soon the projector roars to life, and the audience begins to laugh, whistle and even dance as the latest Pakistani cinematic drama illuminates the big screen before them. In his new book, The Forbidden Reel, American- born photographer Jonathan Saruk documents the cinemas of Kabul-entertainment venues that had been banned under the Taliban but which have sputtered back to life since the US invasion 12 years ago. The Forbidden Reel provides an alternative narrative to life in this violence-plagued city where going to the movies, for many, is an escape from the harsh reality that lies outside.