At Five in the Afternoon

For the 1961 Spanish film, see At Five O'Clock in the Afternoon.
At Five in the Afternoon
Directed by Samira Makhmalbaf
Produced by Siamak Alagheband
Mohsen Makhmalbaf
Written by Mohsen Makhmalbaf
Samira Makhmalbaf
Starring Agheleh Rezaie
Abdolgani Yousefrazi
Razi Mohebi
Marzieh Amiri
Music by Mohammad Reza Darvishi
Cinematography Ebrahim Ghafori
Samira Makhmalbaf
Edited by Mohsen Makhmalbaf
Release dates
16 May 2003 (Cannes)
16 April 2004 (UK)
Running time
105 minutes
Country Iran
Language Dari Persian

At Five in the Afternoon (Persian: پنج عصر, Panj é asr) is a 2003 film by Iranian writer-director Samira Makhmalbaf. It tells the story of an ambitious young woman trying to gain an education in Afghanistan after the defeat of the Taliban. The title comes from a Federico García Lorca poem and is a tale of flourishing against the odds.

The film premiered In Competition at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival and was awarded the Jury Prize and the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury.[1]


Nogreh, a Pakistani immigrant in Kabul, Afghanistan begins covertly attending an all girls school against her father's wishes. Nogreh is one of the few girls at the school who dreams of one day becoming president. While searching for water one day after school she comes across several truckloads of Pakistani refugees and helps them resettle in the ruins she calls home. However the number of refugees overwhelms the shelter where her family have been living and they are eventually forced out by several other families. They manage to find shelter in an abandoned airplane but this too is eventually overcrowded by refugees.

Nogreh meets a refugee among the ruins who is a poet. She asks him if he knows whether the president of Pakistan is a man or a woman and he, like everyone else, does not know. However, after befriending Nogreh and learning of her ambitions to be president he helps procure political speeches and goes with her to a photographer to get photos of her that she can use to campaign.

Nogreh's father learns from some of the Pakistan refugees that his son has died. Unwilling to tell his daughter-in-law he moves the family further into the desert where his grandson dies of starvation and malnourishment.

In the desert they meet an old man who is waiting by his donkey who is dying of hunger and thirst. The man had been trying to get to the city to speak on behalf of Osama Bin Laden to try to prevent him from being given to the Americans. Nogreh's father informs him he is too late and that the Americans have already invaded. After Nogreh's father buries his grandson the family continues on into the desert.


At Five in the Afternoon was the first film to be shot in Kabul after the NATO invasion. It was an international co-production between the Iranian company Makhmalbaf Productions and the French companies Bac Films and Wild Bunch.

Makhmalbaf had difficulty finding an actress willing to play the lead character. Her original choice for the role would not allow her face to appear on camera.[2]

Samira's 14-year-old sister Hana Makhmalbaf made a documentary about the making of the film, entitled Joy of Madness (Lezate divanegi). It documents Samira's trials and tribulations whilst trying to persuade people in Kabul to take part in her film. As a teenager, Hana was able to amass a lot of digital video footage unnoticed.


  1. "Festival de Cannes: At Five in the Afternoon". Archived from the original on 2011-09-21. Retrieved 2009-11-07.
  2. Macnab, Geoffrey. "A woman's place". Retrieved 15 May 2016.

External links

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