The documentary “Frame by Frame,” from directors Alexandra Bombach and Mo Scarpelli, trails four Afghan photojournalists as they navigate a war-ravaged, post-Taliban homeland in search of pictures that capture reality and, possibly, lead toward a hopeful future.
It’s a pursuit that each of them feels is inherently empowering, especially Farzana Wahidy, who survived girlhood under the brutal Taliban regime and who’s made the lives of Afghan women — once forbidden as subject matter — her calling. She’s married to Massoud Hossaini, now with Associated Press, whose 2011 photograph of a wailing girl amid the human carnage of a bomb blast earned him a Pulitzer Prize for breaking news. While Wakil Kohsar turns his camera toward such social issues as free elections and drug addiction, veteran Najibullah Musafar devotes his time to teaching the next generation of photographers and free-press photojournalists.
The filmmakers’ approach is inherently positive, even if an extended scene of Wahidy trying to persuade a reprisal-wary hospital doctor to let her shoot female immolation victims speaks of the hardships involved in exposing harsh truths.
We also see the celebratory side of picture-taking — children at play, beautiful vistas and a culture’s rich artistic heritage. After all, Musafar notes, a country with no photography — a ban the Taliban violently enforced — is one “without identity.”
“Frame by Frame.”
No MPAA rating.
Running time: 1 hour, 25 minutes.
Playing: Laemmle’s Music Hall 3, Beverly Hills.