Shah Marai & Wakil Kohsar
A painful history
Shah Marai started working with AFP as a driver and translator in 1996 and officially became a photographer in 2001 when the Taliban were ousted from power. He was later made head of the Kabul bureau. He died in 2018 in a double suicide bombing that claimed the lives of 25 people. He arrived on the scene after the first explosion alongside other journalists and was targeted by a second suicide bomber. In a country marked by American occupation and insecurity, his images are full of empathy for his people; they show the quiet day-to-day life of a resilient population who, despite their harrowing history, managed to cope and survive as the 20-year conflict went on around them. They will be on show alongside the photographs of Wakil Kohsar.
Kohsar joined AFP nine years ago after working with various Afghan media outlets, taking over from his colleague Shah Marai. As head of the Kabul bureau, he most notably covered the fall of the city last August. His photos of the airport and planes to which desperate figures clung and his images depicting the tension among the American military went viral – one of a panicked US soldier pointing his gun towards civilians fleeing the capital was awarded a Varenne prize last spring. They are on show with other, more peaceful images captured in the provinces across the country, which once again finds itself at the dawn of a historic transformation, now that the Taliban have returned to power.
As the only foreign agency with offices still open in Kabul, AFP pursues its work in increasingly dangerous circumstances in order to keep the world informed about a country that has slipped back into religious obscurantism.
And while the whole world has turned its eyes to Ukraine, it continues to provide news coverage to shed light on every corner of our planet.
Agence France-Presse is a vital link in the international news chain and a beacon of quality journalism. For the 3rd year running, our Festival is joining forces with AFP to present the work of press photographers posted in the regions that are under the spotlight at La Gacilly this year. After South America and the Nordic countries, this year we are showing the work of two Afghan photojournalists.