Based on a true story, The Black Tulip takes us to Kabul in 2001 after the Taliban has been routed, as the hope of freedom returns. Written, directed, and produced by our guest Sonia Nassery Cole, who stars as Farishta Mansouri, The Black Tulip follows Faishta and her family as they open a restaurant in Kabul in the building where her father had his bookstore, Poet’s Corner. As children, Farishta and her sister witnessed Taliban troops kidnapping her father and burning his shop. Now despite the worries of her mother, and concerns of her husband,  Farishta hopes to honor his memory with poetry readings and hospitality. Poet’s Corner restaurant grows in popularity, becoming a place where both the military and those opposed to them can enjoy traditional food, music, and an open microphone.

The Black Tulip brings us to the wedding of Farishta’s younger sister and Akram whose father holds to traditional ways. A Taliban faction targets the young couple as a warning, violently disrupting their wedding. Tensions mount as the Taliban factions becomes more and more enraged over the Mansouri family and friendships with liberating forces. Farshita’s daughter is kidnapped and there is an attempt to blow up the Poet’s Corner Restaurant.

The Black Tulip, redolent with the sights and sounds of Kabul, is a rich tapestry of the city, drawing us into the country’s struggles for intellectual and spiritual freedom, showing us the lengths people will go to preserve their families and their country. The Black Tulip was Afghanistan’s 2011 Academy Award official entry.