The strength of Afghan women unveiled in 'Patience Stone'
"We started working one year before production with her," Rahimi said. "We had to work on her accent."

"Afghani is very close to Farsi but the accent is different," Farahani said over the phone from Jordan, where she's making "Rosewater," Jon Stewart's debut feature as a director.

"Atiq would talk to me about her voice and how she walks and stands and the point where she starts changing," she said. "She has two voices — one when she is weak and one when she was strong."

The actress said she was so invested in the character that it was difficult for her to shed the woman's skin.

"I have done 27 or 28 movies in my life, and this was the only movie that the feelings of the character stayed with me when work was finished," Farahani said. "I felt the pain and the sadness and the weight on her shoulders. I was like a bird in a cage in my hotel room, crying for hours and I didn't know why."

Rahimi said he was surprised with the reaction to "The Patience Stone" in the Muslim world, where it has won honors including a human rights award at the Istanbul Film Festival.

"The intellectual Muslims seemed to have liked the movie," he said. "A lot of young artists and filmmakers asked me to screen the movie at local cinematheques and film clubs [in Kabul]."

As for religious fundamentalists, Rahimi said, "There are three options: Either they haven't seen the movie, or they saw the movie but they don't understand it, or they have understood it but they have remained silent."