Wakhan, a cinematic poem, sketches two tribes: the Wakhis and the Kyrgyz. Filmed in furthest reaches of this mythical, Hindu-Kush plateau, and far removed from the Taliban, it's an exploration in the pursuit of pure, non-verbal sensations. This journey through the Wakhan Corridor connects with the daily lives of these reclusive peoples living at altitudes of 4,000 m. Artistic, experiential and impressionistic, Wakhan, a documentary, peers into this mysterious Afghan reality.

Best first Documentary Film, Festival Rendez-Vous du Cinéma Québécois - Prize Pierre et Yolande Perreault 2014


Direction Varial Cédric Houin
Production Varial*Studio, Fabrice Nadjari,Victorine Sentilhes
Special Collaboration ARSENAL Montréal – Contemporary Art
Delgate Producer Victorine Sentilhes
Original Idea Varial* & Fabrice Nadjari
Editing Cyril Lochon
Original Score David Drury
Post-Production Manager Joshua Sherret
Associate Producers Josuah Scherett, Cyril Lochon, David Drury, Pierre Trahan



Toronto, April 17th 2014 to August 16th 2014
(web site) | (map)


Arsenal Vancouver end of2014


Arsenal Montreal
Montreal, October 2013 - March 2014

United Nations
New York, January 2013

Nomad Festival
Montréal, December 2011

Impossible Space
NYC, May-June 2012

milk gallery
NYC, May 2012

Bursa photojournalism Festival
Turkey, September 2012

This 300 km (approx. 186 mi.) long Corridor, located in north-eastern Afghanistan bordering China, Tajikistan and Pakistan, is considered one of the most remote and difficult to access regions in this part of the world- but also one of the most stable.

Populated by two tribes, the Wakhi and the Kyrgyz, who live in peaceful coexistence while both trying to survive in a great expanse where the altitude and lack of resources render it practically uninhabitable. The first, farmers and Ismaili Muslims and a people whom, according to certain anthropological theories, are descended from Alexander the Great. The second, a nomadic herding tribe of Sunni Muslims whose Asian features suggest Mongolian lineage. Their seasonal villages of yurts spread across the furthest and highest reaches of the Corridor.


In 2011, inspired by an article published by the New York Times, Varial* Cédric Houin, photographer and director, and Fabrice Nadjari, cultural entrepreneur,decided to embark on a journey in the Wakhan corridor, a remote region of northeastern afghanistan untouched by the war and preserved from the taliban regime.

Equipped with photo, video and sound paraphernalia, transported on the backs of donkeys laden with solar panels, they trekked 180 miles along that closed corridor, from the beginning of the Hindu Kush mountains to the western Himalayas and the border of china, to meet and document the lives of these villagers, farmers, herders and nomads, prisoners of this apogee of the world surrounded by almost impassable limits.

What they discovered during those weeks of walks is an « untouched » Afghanistan where the values of sahring, welcoming and brotherhood remains the one inspired by the books of Jospeh Kessel and Nicolas Bouvier.

Written from a somewhat intimate angle, the project celebrates the beauty and simplicity of these ancient cultures, generally unknown to the world, without concealing the hardships faced by these men and women, or the issues that lay ahead for this changing country. Presented as a hybrid experience, offering the viewer a different vision of a country they believe, perhaps incorrectly, they already know.

« When we left for the Wakhan Corridor in north-eastern Afghanistan equipped with two polaroid cameras and a couple of hundred PX 70 films by Impossible Project, our intention towards this medium was quite simple: to give these Afghans we had been waiting to meet for a long time a rare and tangible gift—remembrance of them and of our encounter—not to be of those photographers who steal images and promise they’ll send a print once back home, without ever doing so. There came this idea of a series of instantaneous portraits, which we shot in a dozen of villages, walking our way through the north-east of Afghanistan to the Chinese border.

This ever-repeated ritual, after endless days of walking, was always a source of exchange and curiosity, joy and laughter, providing us with strong and intimate moments with the people of the Corridor. Unblinking in front of technical failures or trying to understand our mysterious intentions as image-makers, our Afghan hosts all displayed patience and good will while lending themselves to the portrait ceremony. It led us to the most amazing encounters in this part of the country where foreigners almost never venture. For most of the villagers, it was the first time they would actually see their printed image.

The Traces of Time project presents a vision between a current and tangible printed reality that already ceases to exist and an uncertain present resembling the past. This is the perspective of travellers who steal a snapshot of life and leave behind them a trace that could change the lives of those they’ve encountered. »

93 pages
31 x 23.5 cm (12.20” x 9.25”)
hard cover
covered in linen
high quality print on heavy paper
ISBN ISBN 978-0-615-63564-4


national geographic Butterfly
ny times A hard trek to humility
A review by Alex Shoumatoff In the Eye of The Beholder
NPR the story The other afghanistan
bbc brasil Magia da fotografia
modern met The other afghanistan

1st place winner national geographic traveler photo 2012
Rendez-Vous du Cinéma Québecois - Best First Documentary Film 2014
photo district annual 2012
artist wanted – exposure 2011
2013 new york emmy awards (nomination)

Arsenal Montréal

Jean-François Belisle

Film production
Victorine Sentilhes

Varial Cédric Houin


Creative Direction, Direction and Photography Varial* Cédric Houin

Original Idea Varial* & Fabrice Nadjari
Photography Polaroid Varial* & Fabrice Nadjari
Production Varial*Studio, Fabrice Nadjari, Victorine Sentilhes
Delegate Producer Victorine Sentilhes
Original Music David Drury
Translation Tania-Brianne Peritz