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Nina Holmgren is a Danish director. One day she picked up a camera and began filming. She loves to find the beauty in what the rest of us might find appalling. She makes us wonder why we never realized that human-scales are amazingly aesthetic.

Khalida Popal, the subject Holmgren’s latest film shortlisted for the VOW | MADE BY HER AWARDS, is an Afghan football player fighting discrimination and promoting women’s rights in the embattled country through the world’s most popular game—one whose narratives are typically dominated by its male stars. Fired up by her love of the sport, Khalida has been motivated by one goal only: to see football reach as many people as possible. As Holmgren explains, “Khalida Popal is a modern sports icon.”

Telling the story of two generations who stood together in the aftermath of the Taliban regime and the ensuing war, the mother and daughter stood together as Khalida went on the establish the first women’s national football team in Afghanistan. In 2011 she had to flee from her home country due to death threats, and now lives in Denmark. Popal continues her fight for women’s rights, and has established the non-profit organisation GirlPower that raises awareness of gender inequality and the empowerment of women through sports—especially for minority groups and refugees.

“The film shows how powerful a medium sports can be,” explains Holmgren. “But it also shows the incredible power of an amazing woman.”

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