Soghra Setayesh

Filmmaker, actor

ResidencyAR-Berlin, Germany

Soghra Setayesh (1985), who also goes by the stagename Shaikhzada, is a filmmaker and actor from Afghanistan, currently an Artists at Risk (AR)-Resident at Moosdorf Korrektiv e.V. in Berlin, Germany. She graduated from Kabul University in 2014 and has written and directed two short fictional films and seven documentary films. Soghra has also acted in more than 30 short films and around 10 theatre productions. Along with her husband, Ali Kiyan, also an AR-Resident at Moosdorf Korrektiv e.V., she collaborated in putting on the Mehrgan International Film Festival in Kabul, which was an important artistic event in Afghan society and played a key role in encouraging young filmmakers. Soghra has also taken part in the jury in Afghan film festivals.

Apart from making films, Soghra has worked as an art expert in the Ministry of Culture and Information, a public relations officer at the Academy of Art and Cinematic Education, a coordinator of media production at Mediothek, a public relations officer at the Nama Rasana Institute and at Kelid Radio’s Drama Department.

Currently, Soghra has three projects in the post-production stage: the short films “My Mother” and “Nostalgic Season” and the long film August Stories. Her long documentaries Exit (2021), The Gray Moments (2021), The Land of Jamila (2020) and Ski in the Land of Buddha (2017), as well as fictional films Facebook (2013) and Silence (2014) and an video installation about Chadari/Borqa (2018), in addition to acting, are but some of her achievements. Ski in the Land of Buddha won the Best Film Proposal Award from UNESCO in the Japan Prize Programme and was screened on NHK TV and at selected high schools in Kabul in 2016. She also won the Best Actress Award for her work in Habiba at the Belgium International Online Film Festival in 2019. Soghra was selected for a filmmaking master class to develop her film project Nostalgic Season in Normandy, France, in 2022, with the support of Caen University and Normandie Image Production. Three of her film projects were selected to be produced in Pakistan with the support of the Goethe Institute. The Green House Film programme in Morocco selected her documentary proposal for 2017–18.

Soghra’s acting has been seen on the stages of Normandy, France, in the play Kaboul, 15 août, which was performed in various cities in 2022, and in The Little Prince, which hit the stage at the Pantomime Theatre and later travelled to more than 20 schools in Kabul in 2013. Other productions have been performed in Iran and in various provinces in Afghanistan.

After escaping Afghanistan, Soghra Setayesh, aka Shaikhzada, has been an Artists at Risk (AR)-Resident at the AR-Moosdorf Korrektiv e.V. Residency in Berlin, Germany, which is co–funded by the Crespo Foundation and co-organised by Perpetuum Mobile (PM) as part of the AR-Network. The AR-Network is coordinated by the AR-Secretariat, which is funded by the Swedish Arts Council’s Programme for Artistic Freedom and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland’s Centre for Peace Mediation.

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