for Cinetalk.net

“Is the road potentially dangerous?” inquires director Sonia Kronlund, talking to her leading man, Salim Shaheen, in Nothingwood. If there is a fatal explosion, “we’ll both die for the glory of Cinema” is Shaleen’s answer.

After visiting Afghanistan several times, and confronting grave subjects, Kronlund heard of Salim Shaheen. With more than a hundred pictures under his belt, he is the prince of Afghan Z movies. As he puts it “there is Hollywood, there is Bollywood and when you have no money you have Nothingwood“. The director decided to follow him on a crazy journey. Heavily influenced by the Bollywood spectacles, but made with literally no budget, and in the middle of a war zone, the cinema of ”jack of all trades Shaheen (he produces, directs, acts, etc.) is made of invincible heroes and of the common man.

Chivalrous, productive, hot-tempered, full of oneself but protective of his team, half-charlatan (in every village he visits he tell people his mother is born in the area), Shaheen is is a bit of everything. A fascinating character using his ‘magic’ to partially heal (at least for a few hours) the wounds of a nation. Even Taliban, apparently, have a black market for his films…

By painting a different portrait of Afghanistan in Nothingwood, Sonia Kronlund shows great understanding of her subject. The match-up between this gentled nature woman full of empathy (but also bearing a critical point of view) and her larger-than-life character is as funny as it is poignant.

 

Festival Screenings:

Nov. 18 7:00 PM (As the Closing Film)
Concordia University  SGWU (H-110)
with French subtitles
Director or crew member in attendance

Nov. 19 1:00 PM
Cinémathèque québécoise
with English subtitles
Director or crew member in attendance

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