By: The Montreal Gazette
Part road movie, part coming-home story, this feature-length documentary follows two young men as they return to Afghanistan in search of their families. Amir and Soorgul were torn from their childhoods 16 years ago by occupying Soviet forces, who shipped them out of the country. We see flashbacks of Soviet tanks, hear radio reports of today’s war and soak in the breathtaking landscapes as the two men try to make it home on very different paths.
By: The Hour
This year, as usual, Canada has a strong selection of documentary submissions that are highly recommended. From the NFB comes the emotionally charged The Sweetest Embrace: Return to Afghanistan, about Soorgul and Amir, two young Afghans who haven't seen their parents in over 15 years, since they were sent to Tajikistan as boys during the Soviet occupation. Soorgul eventually settled in Canada, and he and Amir decide to travel back to Afghanistan to search for the parents. Shot in traditional NFB verité style, this extraordinary film gives insight into an Afghanistan outside the 11 o'clock news.
By: In Film Reviews
It goes without saying that anyone ambitious and courageous enough to undertake shooting a documentary on a shoestring budget in war-ravaged Afghanistan is well aware of the inherent danger. Still, having made the arduous journey from Kabul to the placid hills of Feyzabad in the country’s northeast, director Najeeb Mirza and cameraman Jimmy Bustos thought the danger was, more or less, behind them.
By: Omar Mouallem
It’s easy to feel exhausted after watching the grueling journey that two Canadians named Soorgul and Amir make back to their homeland of Afghanistan, which they were driven out of 16 years prior during the Soviet occupation. Afghanistan is portrayed in both a harsh and beautiful light as constant news reports of violent attacks are heard amidst the beautiful landscapes that have not yet been completely ruined. While Soorgul and Amir are both very driven in reuniting with their families, the film often catches them at moments of vulnerability. The Sweetest Embrace is not only a journey to be once again wrapped in the arms of one’s mother but to be also wrapped in the arms of an entire community.