TVO Original ‘The Forbidden Reel’ captures extraordinary efforts to preserve Afghan cinema

Award-winning documentary shows secret filmmaker campaign to subvert Taliban

Co-winner of the Rogers Audience Award at Hot Docs 2020, TVO Original The Forbidden Reel is a gripping documentary from Oscar-nominated and Canadian Screen Award–winning filmmaker Ariel Nasr (Good Morning Kandahar, The Boxing Girls of Kabul), Loaded Pictures, The National Film Board of Canada, and TVO. Available for streaming on and the TVO YouTube Channel, the film tells the story of how Afghan filmmakers created a unique national cinema, while under constant threat from Taliban extremists.

TVO Original The Forbidden Reel takes viewers inside the bullet-scarred building where a group of artists risked their lives by hiding the nation’s films from the Taliban. Nasr, an Afghan-Canadian, brings these stories to light in a dramatic feature-length documentary that affirms cinema’s power to sustain culture through even the most challenging circumstances.

With unprecedented access to Afghanistan’s national film archive, and 16 mm recreations shot in Afghanistan, The Forbidden Reel reveals a fresh perspective on the Cold War and the rise of Islamic extremism. Writer-director Nasr incorporates newly restored images from the Afghan Films Archive to highlight the heroic efforts by filmmakers like “Engineer” Latif Ahmadi (The Immigrant Birds) and Siddiq Barmak (Osama) to save a cinematic legacy.

TVO Original The Forbidden Reel is now available for streaming at and