Netflix recovers “Three songs for Benazir” for Doc Shorts Slate


Netflix has bolstered its shortlist of Oscar hopefuls with the acquisition of “Three Songs for Benazir”.

Directed by Gulistan and Elizabeth Mirzaei, the 22-minute documentary tells the story of Shaista, a young refugee man living in present-day Afghanistan. Newly married to Benazir and living in a camp for internally displaced people in Kabul, Shaista struggles to reconcile his dreams of being the first of his tribe to join the Afghan National Army with pressure from his father and brother to found a family.

“Three Songs for Benazir,” which is slated to air on the service in 2022, qualifies for Oscar consideration in the Documentary Short category.

The director duo, who are married and divide their time between California and Afghanistan, shot the short for four years.

“We are delighted to add ‘Three Songs for Benazir’ to our list of original short documentaries,” said Chloe Gbai, Head of Original Documentaries at Netflix. “It is a poignant love story from Afghanistan that will touch the hearts of viewers.”

The documentary has been screened at numerous film festivals in the United States and abroad. In April, “Three Songs for Benazir” won the Jury Prize for Best Short Film at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival.

“We are honored to partner with Netflix to bring ‘Three Songs for Benazir’ to a global audience,” said Gulistan and Elizabeth Mirzaei in a joint written statement to Variety. “Despite being bombarded with media on Afghanistan, the world often sees only a fraction of the reality and there is an imaginative poverty on the lives of real people in the region. This story of a young couple in search of their place in the world is universal in many ways, and we are delighted that it now has a global reach that we could not have imagined.

“Three Songs for Benazir” is one of four short documentaries that Netflix qualified for the Oscar this year. Other Netflix shorts that hope for a golden little man are “Lead Me Home”, “Camp Confidential” and “Audible”.

In recent years, the short documentary has become an increasingly competitive market that was once dominated by HBO Documentary Films. Netflix along with the New York Times, The New Yorker, MTV Documentary Films, A&E, The Guardian and ESPN are among the many film distributors who have started acquiring and ordering short documentaries, which in turn have given companies like Netflix and the New York Times provide a way to enter awards season for a low cost.

Netflix won its very first Oscar in 2017 for Orlando von Einsiedel’s short documentary “The White Helmets.” The streaming service won the category again in 2019 for “Period. End of the sentence.

Since 2016, Netflix has garnered seven Oscar nominations in the short documentary category for the following films: “White Helmets” (2016), “Extremis” (2016), “Heroin (e) (2017)”, “Period. End of Sentence ”(2018)“ End Game ”(2018)“ Life Overtakes Me ”(2019) and“ A Love Song for Latasha ”(2019).

“Three Songs for Benazir” is nominated for a Cinema Eye 2022 award in the category of Outstanding Documentary Shorts. Cinetic negotiated the deal on behalf of the filmmakers.

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