Four years ago, Osama made a splash at Cannes. It won several awards for first-time director Siddiq Barmak, then played at a number of US festivals, received a modest theatrical release, and picked up a Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film. The first movie to be made in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban, Osama was a powerful drama, telling the story of a 12-year-old girl who was forced to masquerade as a boy called Osama in order to get a job and provide for her family. Without resorting to the genre conventions of a thriller, Osama kept me on the edge of my seat, waiting to see if the far-too-young heroine could pull off the deception at the risk of her life.

Barmak started filming last month in his homeland for his second feature, titled Opium War. Korean company Cineclick Asia is handling sales, and a little snooping around on their site led me to their Cannes sales flyer (PDF), where the following plot details were revealed. Two American soldiers -- a white officer and a black soldier -- must fend for themselves in the Afghanistan desert after their helicopter crashes. The military men are at odds to begin with, as the wounded officer must hold a gun on the soldier to keep him from running away. Things change when they come across an opium field and partake of the pleasures of the poppies. Then they discover an Afghan family living inside a Russian armored personnel carrier, and who knows what happens from there. The quality of sophomore films are extremely tricky to predict, but Osama was so strong that I'm eager to see what Barmak makes of the intriguing premise; I'm hoping for another potent, emotionally-involving drama. Opium War is scheduled to be completed in the spring of 2008.