Sat 30 December 6:15pm
Tue 2 January 8:45pm
Thu 4 January 8:30pm
Director: Sonia Kronlund
Cast: Qurban Ali, Sonia Kronlund, Salim Shaheen
French and Dari with English subtitles
Sonia Kronlund‘s touching and often hilarious debut, this educative, crowd-pleasing documentary screened to acclaim in Director’s Fortnight at Cannes 2017. Its subject is Salim Shaheen, the “Ed Wood of Afghanistan”, seen during a week of filming for his latest production in Bamiyan – the ancient outpost where majestic Buddhas were blasted away by the Taliban.
A force of nature, Shaheen has managed to make and self-distribute no fewer than 110 films despite the country’s ongoing war and past conflicts. Keenly aware of the power of performance (he was the only member of his army unit to survive the 1982 Soviet-Afghan war by playing dead among genuine corpses), he uses an outsize charisma and confidence to fuel his productions – as well as notable innovations, such as using real blood and real guns with real ammunition. Making movies is, after all, a way to get away from the reality of war…
Bolstered by a cast of warmly flamboyant characters and Kronlund’s thoughtful voiceover – a radio journalist, she has been visiting and reporting from Afghanistan for over 15 years – it’s an intriguing and infectious story and a love letter to filmmaking, centred by its exuberant and extraordinary protagonist.