Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (if you’re a girl) won the BAFTA for British Short Film and follows the progress of a group of girls in Skateistan’s Back-to-School students.

Award-winning NGO Skateistan is the focus of the documentary film, which was shot in Kabul, Afghanistan and produced by Grain Media for A & E Networks. The film follows a group of girls who are attending the ‘Back to School’ program at Skateistan to help them enter or rejoin formal education. Alongside the BAFTA win, the film has also been nominated and won an Oscar® in the Best Short Subject category. 

Director Carol Dysinger and Producer Elena Andreicheva accepted the award at the Royal Albert Hall on 2 February.

Skateistan, founded in 2008 in Kabul, runs skateboarding and creative education programs for over 2,800 children in Afghanistan, Cambodia and South Africa. Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (if you’re a girl) is a moving account of a group of girls in Kabul and their progress through their classes at Skateistan. The Skate School is seen as a refuge from the dangers and insecurity of life outside its walls. We see the interaction between the girls and their female teachers, some of whom are former Skateistan students, and the bonds that are created between women and girls in challenging environments.

It’s fitting that the film was shot with an entirely female crew, on location in Kabul in 2017. Afghanistan is consistently ranked as one of the worst places in the world to be a girl, but the film shows another side to life and childhood in Kabul. We see the girls in the classroom at Skateistan, being guided by their teachers who encourage them to be brave by coming to the board. They tell stories to each other, joke around and clap for each other when they get things right. In the skatepark, they watch their educator in awe as she demonstrates her skills, before getting on the boards themselves and helping each other to balance.

Oliver Percovich, who founded Skateistan in Kabul in 2008, said:

“We are delighted that Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone has won a BAFTA. We see so many negative stories about Afghanistan and this is a story of real hope which can help to challenge perceptions. Here at Skateistan, we’re firm believers that when girls and women are empowered, they can achieve great things. That’s what is demonstrated so well in this film – the story of a group of girls who are defying expectations in Afghanistan, being told by an all-female film crew and getting the recognition it deserves.” 

About Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (if you’re a girl)
Produced by Grain Media for A & E networks, ‘Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (if you’re a girl)’ is a story of young Afghan girls learning to read, write, and skateboard, at Skateistan in Kabul. Trailer is here and the full film is available on A & E Networks (US Only). Director: Carol Dysinger. Producer: Elena Andreicheva.

About Skateistan
Skateistan is an award-winning international non-profit organization empowering children through skateboarding and education in Afghanistan, Cambodia and South Africa. Through innovative programs, Skateistan aims to give children the opportunity to become leaders for a better world.