The Afghan filmmaker Sahraa Karimi, who earlier this week released appeals to the international film community about the situation in her country, spoke to Reuters about her daring escape on Wednesday night.
At a hotel in Kyiv, Ukraine, she told Reuters about her escape, which she said was done with the help of the Turkish and Ukrainian governments.
"I took my family. I leave my house, I leave my car, I leave my money, I leave everything that I have," she said.
The 36-year-old has sounded the alarm about the return of Taliban rule, saying it would throttle the film industry and the rights of women.
"They don't support art, they don't value culture and they will never support these kinds of things," Karimi said. "And they are afraid of educated, independent women," she said, adding that the Tailban wanted women to be "hidden, invisible".
Karimi, an Afghan filmmaker and the first woman to head the state-run Afghan Film Organization, decided on the spot to get herself, her brothers and nieces out of Afghanistan, even though she knew there was chaos at Kabul's airport.
After leaving a bank and unable to find a taxi home, Karimi began to run through the streets. The director, whose film Hava, Maryam, Ayesha featured at the Venice film festival in 2019, filmed herself as she ran, in a video posted on Instagram with more than 1.3 million views.
Karimi and her family were due to leave on a flight that was evacuating Ukrainian citizens, she said, but as thousands of Afghans poured into the airport hoping to escape, access to her flight was cut off and it left without them.
"The moment when we missed the first airplane was the most sad moment in my life because I thought: 'Okay, we cannot go anymore, we stay,'" she said, adding that she had been worried the Taliban would target her family rather than her.
"A lot of people just came to airport and they just, you know, they (were) just ... like hugging (the) airplane, just to take them. They were so hopeless," Karimi said.
Having missed the first plane, Karimi got back in touch with the officials helping her. She was told to move away from the crowd and hours later, officials whom she did not identify then took her family to another part of the airport, from where she and her family boarded a Turkish flight to Ukraine.
She tweeted on Tuesday that she was safe but did not disclose her whereabouts. In her tweet, she thanked Wanda Hrycova from the Slovak Film and TV Academy, the embassy of Slovakia in Iran, the Ukrainian government, and the Turkish government, for helping her to flee Kabul along with 11 other unnamed individuals.
The Reuters interview took place in Kiev, Ukraine.
Karimi had on August 13 tweeted and filmed videos calling on filmmakers to protect Afghans, especially filmmakers, from the Taliban.
She also issued a video on August 15 asking people to raise their voices.
She is not the only filmmaker expressing concern about life under the Taliban who, in their last government, banned all forms of art.
Cannes-winning Afghan director Shahrbanoo Sadat spoke to a magazine about wanting to leave Afghanistan.
Omaid Sharifi, who runs the non-profit arts organization ArtLords, told NPR on Monday that the future was uncertain for Afghan artists under Taliban rule.
In a press conference on Tuesday night the Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said they wanted to honor women's rights accorded to them under Islamic law; they also said private media should continue to work independently provided they do not go against the national interest.
This story was written using Reuters and additional sources.