Written and directed by Ibrahim Nash’at, the multi-awarded documentary Hollywoodgate is set to make its premiere today, March 14th, and tomorrow, March 15th, at the 26th edition of the Thessaloniki International Documentary Festival (TiDF). The festival, which began on March 7th, will run until March 17th. The screening for today is scheduled at 8 pm at the festival’s iconic annual venue, the Olympion movie theatre, and tomorrow at 10:30 pm at Stavros Tornes cinema hall.

Nash’at’s Hollywoodgate premiered at the 80th Venice Film Festival and has since garnered six awards from international festivals along with six nominations, making its selection in Top Docs’s lineup, the TiDF’s section featuring globally distinguished documentaries, unsurprising.

The Plot

Hollywoodgate picks up where the rest of the world left off, in the immediate aftermath of the United States’ chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan. Days after the last U.S. plane leaves Afghan soil, the Taliban—now in control of the country—enter an American base in Kabul called Hollywood Gate, reputed to have been a secret CIA station. There they find a portion of the over $7 billion in sophisticated American weaponry left in the country: numerous small arms and munitions, jet fighters, Black Hawk helicopters, and other military equipment. Much of it is damaged, but the base is also equipped with many of the parts needed to fix it.

Director’s Statement

“I grew up in Cairo, Egypt, and from a young age, I was exposed to many who portrayed the Taliban as heroes. In my adolescence, I began to question this belief, and that questioning led me to a career in journalism. Since then, I have worked across the Middle East and Europe with Deutsche Welle, Al Jazeera, Voice of America, and others, filming world leaders and those in positions of power. Most of these people were men, and most wanted nothing more from me other than to be a mouthpiece for their perspective and an amplifier of their message.

When the Taliban came to power (again), I was stunned. How could this happen? And what would now happen to the people of Afghanistan? It haunted me. Because of my background filming world leaders, I wondered if I could gain access to the Taliban. If so, this time I pledged that I would work independently: I would show the world what the Taliban wanted me to see and also, more importantly, what I saw.

In the style of a Shakespearean drama with power at its main axis, “Hollywoodgate” follows soldiers who become generals and generals who become totalitarians. In places where a camera has never been permitted, I use an intimate, observant eye to see the lives of our two characters without a running voiceover or set-up interviews. My goal is that we can see through the ways they present themselves and understand the truth of their ambitions for control—of women, of their countrymen, of their larger geopolitical region. The film’s other main character, Hollywood Gate, functions like a Greek theater where the failure of the U.S.-led occupation of Afghanistan is played out and the stratagems of the Taliban’s brutal regime over the Afghan people are staged.

I am grateful to be supported by a team of creative collaborators who have made films I deeply admire such as “Navalny,” “Of Fathers and Sons,” “The Edge of Democracy,” “Fire of Love,” and “Honeyland.” My hope is that for the first time, “Hollywoodgate” can expose the Taliban from the inside out and help return attention to the plight of the Afghan people.”

The film owes its success to a team of brave filmmakers and producers uniting their forces to raise awareness on issues that truly matter. Among them are Odessa Rae, an Academy Award- and BAFTA-winning producer for the documentary “Navalny,” also included in TiDF’s special screenings. Katherine Embiricos, a prominent figure in the arts, has been the executive producer and Greek soul of the documentary. Renowned for her impactful contributions to the Museum of Cycladic Art, Embiricos has been actively involved since 2015 and is a founding committee member of the Young Patrons program. Additionally, Embiricos has led fundraising initiatives that have raised over 1 million Euros for Greek children’s charities.


Documentary enthusiasts can find tickets for Hollywoodgate screenings through the festival’s official page. Additionally, interested audience can find most of TiDF’s 250 documentaries, part of this year’s lineup, available through the festival’s digital platform.