smiling in a war zone

Category All , International Politics , Society , Women
Year: 2005
Country: Denmark
Running Time: 58′ | 77′
Production: Cosmo Doc ApS
Director: Simone Aaberg Kaerns & Magnus Bejmar
Official Website:

As a young girl, director and performance artist Simone Aaberg Kaern always dreamed of being a fighter pilot. As an adult, flying became not just her passion, but her mission. In the wake of September 11, when airspace was severely restricted to private aircraft, Simone was determined to “reclaim the freedom of the sky.” After reading a newspaper article about an Afghan girl named Fairal who shared her fighter pilot dreams, Simone knew what she needed to do: She would fly herself to Afghanistan and show Farial how to fly. In her tiny, canvas-covered ’61 Piper Colt plane, the unlikely journey from Copenhagen to Kabul takes three long, exhilarating and complicated months. On a wing and a dream, she is able to dodge a series of serious obstacles with her mad mix of unruffled determination, naiveté and humor. No-fly zones, expired flight permits, questionable black market fuel, higher altitudes than the plane’s manual recognizes, not even strict orders from U.S. Air Force generals can keep this girl grounded. For Simone, the right to fly is the very ideal of freedom. It is that philosophy which drives both her stubborn attempts to create a peace bridge into a war zone and the fairytale quality of her film. Playful visual and musical pastiches commingle with archival footage of her American WWII female flyer heroines. From the confines of her fishbowl cockpit, the glaring sunshine continually refracts our perspective as she buzzes above beautifully stark, lunar landscapes. And the dream of flying becomes a shared reality.—Joanne Parsont


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