Award-winning actor Faridullah Mohibi is grateful he and his family have found a new home in Australia after fleeing Afghanistan but he has fears for the colleagues he left behind.
Award-winning actor Faridullah Mohibi at the premiere of Dari documentary film Nothingwood at Cannes Film Festival in 2017.
When Kabul fell to the Taliban, Mr Mohibi received support in the form of a letter of recommendation to the Australian Government from his former employer, an Australian for whom he worked as a manager and translator.
On learning that he and his family were granted their humanitarian visas to Australia, they went to Kabul airport.
“I tried to enter Kabul airport with five children and my wife, but because of the chaos there, my children were crying, and we went back home,” Mr Mohibi said.
“When my son saw the Taliban 500 metres away, he says to me, ‘I’m going to act like I’m asleep. They are scary, and I don’t like these people.’ So we had to leave.”
Mr Mohibi said they stayed in Kabul before embarking on their journey out of the country, by road, through Islamabad.
“We left our house at 3 am, and there were many checkpoints.”
Mr Mohibi arrived in Sydney with his wife and five children in October and, like other Afghan evacuees, received immediate support from Settlement Services International through the Australian Government’s Humanitarian Settlement Program funded by the Australian Government Department of Home Affairs*, to access essential services and integrate into Australian life.
Mr Mohibi has had a successful career in the film industry since 2004 and has acted in more than eight films. He said his intention was never to leave everything behind in Afghanistan.
“I have many contacts all over the world who had encouraged me to move abroad before the Taliban took over,” he said. “
My friends overseas told me to apply for refugee programs, but I never wanted to leave Afghanistan.”
While swiping through his smartphone, he showcased photos of his Hollywood-esque home office in Afghanistan, decked with lavish furniture.
“I had everything in Afghanistan: nice cars, house, apartments and beautiful office,” he said.
“Look at my office. I had many parties here with my lovely cinema and government friends.”
Mr Mohibi was born and raised in Kabul, but his family is originally from northern Afghanistan’s Parwan province.
“My late father is from the Mujahideen time. He escaped from his village because he was working with the murdered Dr Najibullah government,” he said.
“At that time, Mujahideen was also like Taliban, killing the people who worked with the government.”
Mr Mohibi considers himself to be a part of the “war generation”.
“I grew up in war during the Mujahideen time and Taliban.”
Thanks to his acting career, Mr Mohibi has travelled to many places, including the United States, France, Holland, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Turkey, Dubai and India. His films have won numerous awards, including his most recent film, Sokoot, the most-watched film at the Lajwad Film Festival 2021.
The film won the Best Action Film award from the Sarbaz Film Festival and the Ministry of Culture and Afghan Film.
Mr Mohibi also worked as production manager and actor with well-known French director Sonia Kronlund, who came to Afghanistan to shoot the Dari documentary film Nothingwood, screened at Cannes Film Festival in 2017.
Sokoot, translated into English as “Silence”, is Mr Mohibi’s pride and joy as he both produced and starred in the high-budget film, pouring all his finances and creative resources into its production.
“I spent all my money on this film, Sokoot. More than US$100,000.
“We held its first premiere in New York and later in Washington DC in November 2019.
“Many people in the Afghan community around the world are waiting to see this film.”
Unfortunately, Mr Mohibi is hesitant to release the film due to its subject matter being highly controversial with the Taliban.
“Sokoot film is against Taliban, and I am very worried about my best friends who act and help me a lot in Sokoot movie,” he said.
“Their lives are at big risk. So I am trying to take them out because they are at big risk.
“Taliban hates filmmakers, actors and other creatives,” he said.
When asked why he became an actor, Mr Mohibi said that he always loved film.
“I love movies and the language of film. I like how it can show the good and bad things.
“There are lots of bad things in Afghanistan, but it is also a beautiful place, and my preference was not to leave.”
Life in Australia
Mr Mohibi has four daughters and a son who are already enrolled and attending school. He said that the children were very happy and grateful to have reached safety in Australia.
“My eldest daughter is going to Leumeah High School in Liverpool, and the rest are going to Campbelltown North Primary School,” he said.
“They are coming home every day after school and telling us that they can say more in English.”
He said that refugee support services in Australia were among the best in the world.
“I have friends who are in other countries.
“My friend in the US texts me and says that he hasn’t had a shower for 15 days, and I tell him that I’m in a nice hotel!”
Mr Mohibi said that he was grateful to Australia for helping Afghan people find security.
“And, at the end, I pray for my poor people and lovely country.
“I hope, one day, peace comes, and all our people live together in peace in Afghanistan.
“I also really appreciate all the great Australian people to help our people to live in peace and here in lovely Australia.”
*Go to https://homeaffairs.gov.au/ for more information.