In Afghanistan you risk your life to sing. After thirty years of war and five devastating years of Taliban rule, pop culture is beginning to return to the country. Since 2005, millions have been tuning in to Tolo TV's wildly popular American Idol-style series AFGHAN STAR. Like its Western predecessors, people compete for a cash prize and record deal. More surprisingly, the contest is open to everyone across the country despite gender, ethnicity or age. Two thousand people audition, including three extremely brave women. And when viewers vote for their favorites via cell phone, it is, for many, their first encounter with the democratic process. Winner of the Directing and Audience Awards in Sundance's 2009 World Documentary competition, Havana Marking's timely and moving film follows the dramatic stories of four young finalists (two men and two women) as they risk everything to become the nation's favorite performer. By observing the Afghani people's relationship to its pop culture, AFGHAN STAR is the perfect window into a country's tenuous, ongoing struggle for modernity. What Americans consider frivolous entertainment is downright revolutionary (and more human) in this troubled part of the world.