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This debut from Sonia Kronlund is a touching and often hilarious, educative, crowd pleaser documentary screened to acclaim in Director’s Fortnight at Cannes 2017.
The film’s 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.
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 love letter to filmmaking, centred by its exuberant and extraordinary protagonist.
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.