"My silence isn't rejection, it's because I'm helpless," says prison warder Atiq (Simon Abkarian) to his terminally-ill wife Mussarat (Hiam Abbass).
Despite its festering anger and despair, The Swallows of Kabul is, at heart, a film made up of love stories. As sunlight floods into their room Zunaira and Mohsen wake up entwined, like a honeymoon couple and they are each other's life-force until an argument and accident has fatal consequences.
From then on the narrative focuses on a more complex kind of love. In particular, what is the true nature of Atiq's feelings and intentions towards the jailed Zunaira? Why does Mussarat visit Zunaira, without telling Atiq about it?
The script is adapted from the novel by Algerian writer Muhammed Moulessehoul (who adopted his wife's name, Yasmina Khadra, as a pseudonym to avoid military censorship). His story brilliantly brings home to us the choice between living a lie or supreme self-sacrifice - which those living under tyranny have to agonise over on a daily basis.