Price: $310.00

    Code: 2302

    Directed by Andreas Dalsgaard
    2007, 59 Minutes
    Purchase: $310 | Classroom Rental: $125

    In post-Taliban Kabul, the most popular sport is bodybuilding. Afghan Muscles takes us inside Afghanistan's thriving bodybuilding culture - a sport that attracts thousands of young men across a country devastated by war and poverty who dream of attaining a better life through muscles. It's a side of Afghanistan and Middle Eastern society that few have ever seen.

    Once barely tolerated by the Taliban (competitors had to remain fully clothed at all times), bodybuilding gyms and clubs are sprouting up throughout the country. Today, competitions take place in the open - in overcrowded halls where buff contestants strut their stuff in Speedos and spray-on tans before enthusiastic audiences of robed, bearded men who fervently cheer for their favorites.

    For these men, bodybuilding is a way to better their lives. A championship can bring instant fame, social recognition and honor to one's family. More importantly, it can earn you the support of a wealthy warlord who will open a gym on your behalf.

    Hamid Shirzai is one such young man. Coming from a long line of bodybuilders - both his brother and uncle were national champions - Hamid is intent on becoming the next Mr. Afghanistan, and ultimately, Mr. Asia.

    Afghan Muscles follows Hamid and his teammates as they prepare for the Asian Championships in Dubai. Along the way, the film reveals their inner strength and determination, as well as the surreal nature of their sport: protein powder, a basic necessity, must be smuggled in like drugs; a sponsorship, necessary to compete, often takes the form of a dozen eggs a day; and everyone knows and talks about and admires "Arnold" - Schwarzenegger, that is.

    Winner of the Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary at the AFI Film Festival, this discerning documentary from filmmaker and anthropologist Andreas Dalsgaard offers an indelible view of a changing Afghanistan, and in the process, shatters every pre-conceived notion you ever had about this country.

    Subjects & Collections

    Festivals & Awards

    * Winner, Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary, AFI Film Festival, 2007
    * Official Selection, Vision du Reel Film Festival, 2008
    * Official Selection, Docudays Film Festival, 2008


    [Three Stars] “An insightful documentary. One needn’t be particularly interested in bodybuilding to appreciate Afghan Muscles, which offers an interesting window onto a city and its people as they struggle to carve out a future in the midst of street battles and destruction. Recommended.” - Video Librarian

    “Fascinating. A truly beautiful and important film. Afghan Muscles is a timely film to watch as the US and other foreign governments gear up to send in additional troops to prevent Afghanistan from further destabilization by the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.” - Leonardo Reviews

    “Highly Recommended. Afghan Muscles is an eye opening experience of how some young Afghan men are attempting to maintain order in their lives and establish goals that enable them to escape the devastation that has encroached upon their homeland.” - Educational Media Reviews Online