Motivated by a sense of helplessness and frustration, Lawrence established the production company Excellent Cadaver in 2018 with her friend Justine Ciarrocchi. The documentary emerged from their desire to provide a meaningful platform for women to share their experiences during the dire circumstances following the fall of Kabul in 2021.
The documentary was directed by Sahra Mani, co-founder of the independent Kabul production company Afghan Doc House. Mani had already embarked on a project to document the efforts of Afghan women striving for autonomy in a society where they were barred from universities and schools. Filming in covert situations using hidden cameras, Mani captured intimate moments and conversations, including secret meetings in windowless basements where women from different protest groups came together to support each other.
Balancing the need for safety with the urgency to tell these stories was a challenge. Late-night conversations between Mani, Ciarrocchi, and Lawrence were crucial in navigating these complexities. Mani emphasizes that the women featured in the documentary are not victims but heroes.
Now that Mani and the other women featured have left the country, the producers are eager to bring “Bread and Roses” to a wider audience. They hope to overcome the difficulties of marketing an ongoing conflict and showcase the film’s ongoing impact. As women executive producers, Ciarrocchi and Lawrence are committed to supporting diverse voices and telling women’s stories, contributing to a more inclusive film industry.
While progress has been made in diversifying filmmaking, there is still a long way to go. Lawrence and Ciarrocchi recognize the importance of their roles in providing opportunities to women and championing diversity in the industry. They believe that audiences crave authentic stories and are inspired by the end product when diversity is prioritized.
“Bread and Roses” stands as a testament to the resilience and strength of Afghan women, providing them with a platform to document their own stories in their own way.