Frontrunner – DVD Review

After the fall of the Taliban in 2001, Afghanistan was poised to hold its first election in 2002 for an interim President. Under strict Taliban ruling, women were forced to wear burqas and were not allowed to show their faces in public. Women weren’t considered as equal to men. Despite deeply traditional Islamic laws that prevent a woman from holding a leadership position over a man, a woman, Dr. Massouda Jalal, ran for President of Afghanistan in both the interim Presidential election and the Presidential election in 2004.

Dr. Massouda Jalal has been a pediatrician, a university professor, a mother, and a wife. She had been forced out of her job by the Taliban, and she knows firsthand about the struggles that a woman living in Afghanistan has to face. When beginning her Presidential campaign, Jalal knew little things that she had to do to remain a viable candidate, such as not smile in her publicity posters. A woman smiling in public is considered to be threatening to the men. Because she was a woman, her posters were removed by the police in some areas. But she was determined to pave the way for other women in her beloved country.

Unfortunately, the film veers from Jalal after the first half and then focuses more on the actual 2004 election. We learn about the controversy surrounding the election, the people who stood in line for hours, and the women who voted for the first time in their lives. The story of the election is inspiring and a turning point for a nation trying to form a government. But Jalal is a passionate, yet quiet woman who has an intriguing story. I would have loved to have seen more interviews or narration from her, instead of from her campaign team or the filmmakers.

Jalal does not win, in both the interim election or the 2004 Presidential election. It has been all over the news since then that Hamid Karzai is the Afghanistan President. Jalal has been serving as the Minister of Women’s Affairs in Afghanistan under the Karzai administration. At the end of Frontrunner, Jalal does come onscreen to tell us, “I plan to run for the presidency again and again.” A powerful statement from a woman who is so brave, willing to be the frontrunner not necessarily for one or two elections, but for women all across Afghanistan.

Presented in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio, the visual quality of the film is sketchy in places, probably due to the conditions in which the film was shot. It looks raw and gritty, which is fitting for the topic and the environment.

Making of Frontrunner (Crew Pix Slideshow) – A behind the scenes photo gallery.

Afghanistan: A Country In Transition (Brian Liu Photography Slideshow) – Photo gallery with candid shots of the people of Afghanistan and the landscape. Some beautiful shots in here.

Promo – A summary of the film, like an extended trailer. The audio is messed up in places. (8:10)


More at IndiePix – TrailersDominick Dunne: After the Party, In a Dream, Horis Moku

DVD Credits

This is a very inspiring story. If you’re interested in politics, women’s rights, or even the current war in the Middle East, Frontrunner is highly recommended. It gives great insight into the climate in Afghanistan.

IndiePix Films presents Frontrunner. Directed by: Virginia Williams. Starring: Dr. Massouda Jalal. Written by: Virginia Williams. Running time: 90 minutes. Rating: NR. Released on DVD: January 12, 2010. Available at

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