The Black Tulip is a film set and filmed in Afghanistan. The film was released in 2010 with a broader release in 2012. It is about the Mansouri family who opened a restaurant called “The Poet’s Corner.” The name of the restaurant comes from Mrs. Farishta Mansouri’s father’s book shop. He ran it until 1976 when he was murdered and his shop was fire bombed. A few of his country’s military men felt he was selling books that went against the Muslim religion. Farishta had witnessed her father’s murder, and when the American’s freed Afghanistan from significant Taliban rule, she decided to revive “The Poet’s Corner” in her father’s honor. The restaurant along with serving food to patrons also entertained them with music and poetry She began this venture with the support of her husband Hadar, daughter Amanullah, son Satara, and sister Belkis.
The restaurant is quickly accepted by most in their Afghanistan community except for a small local fraction of Taliban. Two of its members started visiting the Mansouri’s restaurant and their presence made the family and the patrons uneasy. However, since no trouble arose during the visits, the Mansouri family acted normally and the patrons kept coming. Then months later Mrs. Mansouri’s sister Belkis is set to marry Akram Zabuli. Just in case the local Taliban group decides to act at this important family event, the Mansouri’s hired armed guards to watch over everyone. They invited two US officials from the local base and the restaurant’s patrons to the ceremony. After the marriage agreement and ceremony is completed, the two military officials are called back to the base. Minutes after they leave, the same two Taliban members who visited The Poet’s Corner arrived dressed as guests and kill the guards. They then enter the marriage celebration and kill Belkis and Akram before escaping. After the shooting the family realized they will have to take more precautions. The biggest decision was that neither Amanullah nor Satara go anywhere alone.
Unfortunately the local Taliban found a way to kidnap Amanullah through Hadar’s longtime friend, Officer Raheem, who works at the American base. Raheem often visited the Poet’s Corner to order meals for the military officials, and so he used the ruse of another such order to set up the kidnapping. As stated before Amanullah and her brother Satara do not go anywhere alone and when the order is delivered Amanullah goes with a family friend to the base. However, only she is allowed to enter the base with the food and is escorted by Officer Raheem inside. As soon as they get past the gates, Amanullah is grabbed by two men and carried off. Outside of the base the family friend waited and waited; but no Amanullah. A short while later Hadar and Farishta arrived at the American base and demanded to know where there daughter was. The military officials said they never saw her and asked why she was on the base. When they hear a meal was ordered the officials respond they made no such order. Within minutes they have troops volunteer to find Amanullah. The troops succeed and the captors are arrested but Officer Raheem is not found out.
Even with this second incident, the Mansouri family did not stop running the restaurant the way they wanted. As the film continued I wondered about the following. How long can the family defy the local Taliban before another family member is kidnapped or killed? Could the restaurant be burned down with or without anyone inside? Even with a strong presence the family realized the military cannot do this again and again for every Afghan citizen nor show favoritism to the Mansouri family. I understood the reason and noble idea behind starting the restaurant but was it worth the dangers this family would face in the long run?
The film answered my questions. It was not the nice, neat, finish I desired, but nevertheless it fit with the events of the entire film. The Afghanistan country was beginning a new chapter, and the Mansouri family wanted to be a part of it, improving their lives without the constant fear and threats. The film played out the difficulty as the danger never left; yet though sorely tested, the family kept believing that one day soon their country would reach peace.