Sahraa Karimi

Image of Sahraa Karimi
Visiting Faculty

Sahraa Karimi is a film director and screenwriter from Afghanistan. Despite facing numerous obstacles, she has become a leading figure in the Afghan film industry and has won numerous international awards for her work.


At the age of 17, Karimi immigrated to the Slovak Republic, where she eventually earned her Ph.D. in Cinema (Fiction Film Directing & Screenwriting) from the Academy of Music and Performing Arts, Film and TV Faculty in Bratislava. During her studies from 2002 to 2012, she made around 30 short fiction and documentary films, many of which were successful internationally and broadcasted through ARTE France, BBC, and other European TV channels.

In 2012, Karimi returned to Kabul and established her own film production company, Kapila Multimedia House, to support Afghan independent filmmakers and artists. She quickly gained recognition for her work and became the only Afghan filmmaker who is an active member of the Slovak Film and TV Academy.

Despite the challenges of working in Afghanistan, Karimi continued to produce groundbreaking films that shed light on important social issues. Her documentary film Afghan Women Behind the Wheel won about 25 prizes from important film festivals around the world, while her other film Light Breeze won an academy award from the Slovak Film and TV Academy as the best short fiction film.

In 2019, Karimi's first fiction feature film Hava, Maryam, Ayesha premiered at the Venice Film Festival. Shot entirely in Kabul with Afghan actresses, the film was Afghanistan's entry for the Oscars that year and has participated in more than 50 film festivals around the world, has broadcasted through many European TV channels. The film also won numerous awards, including Cigle D'or, Cine – Festival En Payes De Fayence, France, 2021.

Sadly, in August 2021, Karimi was forced to leave Afghanistan due to the sudden and unexpected fall of Kabul and the return of the Taliban to power. However, Karimi is not deterred and continues to work on her second fiction feature film Flight from Kabul, which is based on true events.

Karimi's contributions to the Afghan film industry have been invaluable, and her determination to tell important stories despite the challenges she has faced is an inspiration to filmmakers around the world. Karimi was a visiting faculty member at Bennington for Fall 2023.