Prince of Nothingwood – Film Review
Director: Sonia Kronlund
Stars: Qurban Ali, Sonia Kronlund, Salim Shaheen
When you think of Afghanistan, what is the first image that comes into your head? Crying children or another bombing? This is a documentary that provides a very different view of the country. It tells the tale of one Salim Shaheen, who is a filmmaker responsible for over 110 movies of (ahem) questionable quality! When we meet the filmmaker he is currently making four new films! He stars in most of them and they often incorporate long fight scenes and dancing! There is a touch of Bollywood in the air but they do seem quite unique. As the director says himself, this is not Hollywood or Bollywood, in Afghanistan they have Nothingwood as they have no money!
This documentary is directed by Sonia Kronlund who is a French actress and director. She appears in the work and interviews members of the crew. The film seems nicely haphazard as she travels with these local stars to their location shoots. The depiction of the local people is the most remarkable thing about the film. One of the male actors seems to enjoy cross-dressing and is preparing to play the role of Salim Shaheen’s mother. He does so by shopping for women’s clothing in a local market, trying on the various items. It is a surprising section of footage and shows a tolerance and generosity of spirit you would not expect.
Salim is a questionable character and was a General in the army at one point. He does claim to be more of a lover than a fighter and you can’t help but warm to him! The people of Afghanistan are generally shown as friendly and humorous, but there is always the presence of guns and violence. We also meet members of the Taliban and hear their opinions of Salim. It is a film that will make you think of the locals in a whole new light and realise that their lives are not so remote from our own. The films of Salim are certainly of dubious quality but it is impressive that he continues to make them despite what is happening in his country. He has a great passion for his work, he loves filmmaking and his celebrity status. It is nice to think that there are indie filmmakers all over the world, even if the movies they make are little better than Michael Bay’s work, just without the budgets!