"Spare, unsentimental and uncompromising...Most comparable to the recent doc 'Iraq in Fragments,' and infinitely more successful, this is a picture of a city in fragments, without intro, commentary or visual aid....Edwards, a tyro filmmaker, anthropologist and expert on Afghanistan at Williams College, and vet filmmaker/editor Whitmore, with Afghan-born producer Maliha Zulfacar, ventured to Kabul in 2003 with the idea of taking in various aspects of Kabul sans pre-set agenda. With Edwards' somewhat distanced, anthropological manner of filming akin to French doc pioneer Jean Rouch, Whitmore as editor opts to build the film by showing each part of the city, and seldom revisiting it, creating a sort of Cubist effect for the viewer....Such an approach may seem downright revolutionary to some doc fans, but the pic's style is much in accord with the norm for current Euro and Asian documaking, where polemics takes a back seat if it has a place at all. Lensing under arduous conditions is superb, lending the pic a bigscreen presence."
"The documentary accurately reveals the end result of a 30-year war devastation of the ancient city of Kabul and its inhabitants. It draws many contrasts - the abundance of supply for foreign troops and the scarcity faced by Afghan security forces, the new buildings and the devastation of the city, and the views of university students on what should be done and what is being done by donors. The quality of photography is superb and the coverage is comprehensive with high educational value to viewing students and the public at large. Kabul has been destroyed many times in history and Kabul Transit clearly demonstrates that history repeats itself. The most astonishing aspect came through the positive psychology of the people showing strive and hope rather than despair at terrible odds. The directors of Kabul Transit have rendered a major service to the public and deserve our [gratitude]."
Professor of Economics, University of Southern California
"Afghanis caught in the lower hell of globalization, surviving with the kind of disarming courage that only a fellow human can muster. Subtle, devastating, and poetic, Kabul Transit will be of great use to educators who seek an honest portrait of Afghanistan today."
Department of Religious Studies, University of California-Davis
"As someone who has spent time on the ground in Afghanistan I have long wanted to share this land with those who see it only through the lenses of the war on terror. In particular, as an educator I have wanted to bring this vibrant land of snow-covered mountains, ancient mosques, caravans, nomads, and colorful peoples to life for my students. In Kabul Transit I have found the means to do so. This revealing documentary brings to life average Afghans, from police officials to women who are probing the limits of personal freedom in a new, post-Taliban setting. The result is dozens of vignettes into the lives of ordinary Afghans who hardly resemble the threatening images most outsiders have of the Taliban, warlords, opium barons, or mujahideen. It is the story of real Afghans."
Brian Glyn Williams
Associate Professor of History, University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth
"Well conceived and tastefully edited...Captures many heart wrenching moments of suffering, joy and palpable hope mixed with uncertainty and fear about the outcome of the ongoing military and humanitarian intervention by the US led coalition...This film is a remarkable testament of the warning signs which remained and continues to remain unnoticed to this day, at a huge loss both to the peoples of Afghanistan and the international community. The producers of Kabul Transit should be proud of this memorable and invaluable videographic time capsule of Afghanistan's social history at the dawn of the twenty-first century."
Nazif M. Shahrani
Chairman, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures
and Professor of Anthropology, Central Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, Indiana University
"Offers an invaluable record of the problems plaguing the first outpost in the War on Terror. Recommended."
"Kabul Transit captures intimate scenes of Afgan realities...It invites the viewer to listen to and experience the life and concerns of a society victimized by three decades of proxy wars, and the activities of their presumed international saviors...Serves as a powerful critique of the West's post-9/11 approaches to security and reconstruction."
Asian Educational Media Service
"Forgoing devices of narration and intertitles, filmmakers David Edwards, Gregory Whitmore, and Maliha Zulfacar sculpt an engrossing, wry and ultimately haunting vision of war-torn Kabul and its diverse residents. Meandering through the neighborhoods, we encounter a mystic herbal doctor, an earnest Canadian soldier, the city's fledgling police force, a childless French schoolteacher and even a band of kite enthusiasts. With each encounter, human behavior is captured in its most fragile, humble form, thereby reminding us of mankind's ability to persevere no matter what the circumstances."
Los Angeles Film Festival
"With its title suggesting both its subject and its style, Kabul Transit presents a portrait of a fragmented country in transition via a glancing, observational look at its capital city and environs at a very particular moment in its history...A mosaic of images and experiences that convey the sorrow, black humor, irony, and surprising hope that can exist in the most untenable of situations."
Film Society of Lincoln Center
"Rather than taking a sensationalist outsider's perspective, this masterful documentary by first-time filmmakers David Edwards, Dr. Maliha Zulfacar, and Gregory Whitmore offers panoramic views of the city, as if filmed by an everyman on the streets of Kabul. The camera is in a constant state of quiet motion, swooping past money exchangers, government officials, U.N. Peace Keepers, and kite runners. There are no inserted queries on terrorism, diatribes about the burqa, or elongated shots of starving children within such organic motion; rather, the seemingly invisible filmmakers allow the residents, landscape and traditions of Kabul to illustrate the current state of the city and its people. Throughout the film, the camera serves less as a microscope and more as an eye, mimicking the sight of anyone and everyone on the streets of this legendary capitol city."
San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival
"Rather than shoot a travelogue or a polemic about how military violence has damaged the city and its people, they opted to shoot a fly-on-the-wall documentary in which they portrayed all sides of life in Kabul and allowed its citizens to speak for themselves."
All Movie Guide
"Kabul Transit explores the soul of a city devastated by nearly three decades of war. The film follows city residents in the course of their daily lives and listens to their stories of the past and their hopes for the future. From neighborhoods leveled by rockets, traditional mud brick homes next to modern glass towers, gleaming SUVs caught in traffic jams with rebuilt taxis, Kabul Transit is about the spirit, as much as it is about the problems of the city. It is about the black humor and sardonic good sense that keep people attuned to the realities of their lives, even as politicians lay the groundwork for battles yet to come."
New York Arab and South Asian Film Festival
"A meditative but uncompromising document of the diverse residents of the war-torn Afghan capital, Kabul Transit forgoes didactive narration in favour of patient exposé of a range of everyday lives. A group of female university students discuss resistance and Western influence, a fledgling police force struggle with insufficient resources, a herbal doctor consults with his patients and a French schoolteacher forges close relations with her pupils in her adopted home. All are a testament to perseverance and spirit in the face of regression and destruction."
Leeds International Film Festival