Letter to Bibi Jan: Weaving a letter across Afghanistan and Denmark

Four young women fled Afghanistan as children in the early 90s and grew up in Denmark. Now reaching 30, they weave a letter to their grandmothers – who cannot read! This project is a radically collaborative portrait of and with Asma Safi, Sama Ben Haddou, Nilab Totakhil, Mursal Khosrawi and anthropologist and filmmakers Karen Waltorp and Lea Glob.

Letter to Bibi Jan (grandmother) is both a radically collaborative documentary film, and installation-cum-archieve about and by Asma Safi, Sama Sadat Ben Haddou, Nilab Totakhil, and Mursal Khosrawi with anthropologist and filmmakers Karen Waltorp and Lea Glob. Denmark and Afghanistan have recently been involved in war. They are also intertwined in terms of Danish anthropological expeditions to Afghanistan since the late 1930s, which means Danish ethnographic collections hold some of the most important knowledge and artefacts, which formed part of the foundation of the discipline in Denmark.

Our cinematic machine will create new archives via the film experience and a ‘politics of inviting’ that includes a pop-up studio and women’s circles – sharing stories, photos and writing a letter to one’s grandmother. The stories that are weaved will be gifted to archives in an insistence that this too is part of Danish history. It will also travel with the film and pop-up studio to other countries and have a place in a virtual space. It speaks to an existential condition, it speaks of belongings, places, and relations. It concerns all. Weaving a letter, word by word as a cross-generational collective memory, a cinematic machine will be travelling, collecting, sharing, and insisting that roots are in fact rhizomatic and home can be simultaneously the place you’re in presently and in the memories and relations to the place where you (or your parents) came from.


Nilab Totakhil, Director / Writer / ARTlife 2017-2020 Co-Founder

Lea Glob, Documentary Filmmaker / Director / Conceptualise and Filming