Riders on the Storm (2023)

Directed by Mark Oltmanns and Jason Motlagh

"Riders on the Storm" captures a pivotal moment in Afghan history and offers a rare and visceral look at a ruthless sports culture where champions become marked men.

Seattle International Film Festival 2023: Film #6

During the first half of Riders on the Storm, almost every shot is beautiful or eye-opening, and fairly often, it was both at the same time. The second half is perforce more sobering, as the documentary was filmed during the United States' calamitous exit from Afghanistan; the film's production as captive to the caprice of US foreign policy as the very country it is portraying.

That said, the music was pretty uninspired, and I also found it hard to connect with the two main subjects, something that will likely be a challenge for most viewers. After all, these are brother sportsmen of non-trivial means (as evinced by their ability to escape to the United States), and are playing a game that is essentially a hardcore version of polo. Still, all that dangerous horse riding made me squirm in my seat...