This stunning film, the first to be made in a post-Taliban Afghanistan and inspired by a newspaper account read by director Siddiq Barmak, recounts the efforts of a family of women to survive under an oppressive regime. To eke out a meager living, they dress up their 12-year-old girl, Osama, as a boy so she can work. A talented cast of non-actors -- including Marina Golbahari and Zubaida Sahar -- adds integrity to the heartbreaking story.

Scott Hardie: “It ruled.”

Relentlessly bleak, humanistic only in sparing us visions of bloodshed, "Osama" is a difficult, important film. If you doubted that the elimination of the Taliban was a worthwhile endeavor, or that having to wear a burqa is the worst burden imposed on women in some Muslim nations, this is a clear record of the inhumanity suffered by many in Afghanistan only yesterday. We spend much of the movie fearing that the heroine will be executed for her crime, but when the sentencing comes, it reminds us that some fates are worse than death. There's nothing entertaining about this film, and you have no reason to feel guilty for skipping it (I almost did too), but it's an inspiring reminder of the value of freedom, education, and equality.

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