Children of the Taliban review – this beautiful documentary is an absolute must-watch

Children of the Taliban review – this beautiful documentary is an absolute must-watch

There are too many moving scenes to count as we follow four youngsters living in Kabul. This is thought-provoking TV that’s full of hopes, dreams – and the absolute necessity of education

Best friends Shoukria and Arezo in Children of the Taliban
Small moments speak for themselves … Best friends Shoukria and Arezo, who are both nine, in Children of the Taliban. Photograph: Channel 4

At this time of year, there are a lot of television shows vying for viewers’ attention. From the best-of-the-year lists reminding us what we may have missed, to the blockbuster dramas and reality shows, it might be hard for a documentary like Children of the Taliban (Channel 4) to get a look-in. I hope it does, because this short, beautiful and thought-provoking film really does deserve all the attention it can get.

It follows four children living in Kabul after the Taliban regained power in Afghanistan in 2021. Ehsanullah and Abdullah are eight, are best friends, and both have fathers in the Taliban, making them members of the elite. When filming begins, the two boys are residents at a madrasa, the Taliban-approved Islamic religious schools attended only by boys. Abdullah is also part of his father’s security detail and often follows him around with a machine gun that dwarfs his tiny frame. The boys play with discarded military weapons and, in a telling scene that stands for much more than it shows, they argue over whether the guns are Russian or American.

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