Photo: Source RIDM
“Nothingwood” follows, through the arid landscapes of Afghanistan, the filmmaker, Salim Shaheen, who was preparing to make yet another film.
Pudgy, a touch of the charlatan, be a bit macho, and yet with a strength of character that makes him do all kinds of pirouettes. Including make it endearing.
Salim Shaheen burst onto the screen. And it is through him, his stories are impossible and its cinema (series Z) that the documentary filmmaker Sonia Kronlund sign a portrait of the ordinary for Afghanistan.
Closing Film of the 20es Rencontres internationales du documentaire de Montréal (RIDM), Nothingwood steps, through the arid landscapes, and steep his country, this man who is about to make yet another film. He would have more than a hundred of its assets, while the domestic industry is purely non-existent.
The rooms of Kabul, exclusive to men, broadcast to the indian cinema (Bollywood), movies of kung-fu or Rambo. And Salim Shaheen. Nothingwood, it is him.
The cinema of afghanistan is Nothingwood. There is no money. Nothing. No resources, no equipment. Nothingwood.
The filmmaker afghan Salim Shaheen
“The cinema of afghanistan is Nothingwood. There is no money. Nothing. No resources, no equipment. Nothingwood, ” he says, in the first minutes of the documentary by Sonia Kronlund.
Woman radio, a Parisian fascinated by Afghanistan and more broadly by all that he is ” radically foreign “, such as Islam, Sonia Kronlund signs here a first feature film. She found a space of freedom, less formatted than the documents that she signs for The feet on the ground, France Culture radio program.
The country of the taliban, she on the tour since the year 2000. But it is a friend, the writer Atiq Rahimi (Syngué sabour. Pierre de patience, prix Goncourt 2008), who made him discover, on DVD, the work of Shaheen. She didn’t pack, otherwise to the side “picturesque” of what she has between the hands.
“The cover of the DVD is visually amazing, the DVD itself also. There are two or three films in, we don’t see too much difference, ” she said. From there to make a movie…
It is only after having met the man in question that she knew she had a subject to film. “He told me about his life, his childhood, how he had struggled to make movies, while the context on the creation. I understood that, beyond a little kitsch, look a little bit funny, there was a story behind it, ” says the documentary-from its offices in paris.
Six weeks of shooting, four years of work — “on the radio, I do a show a day,” compare the French director — and a foray into a world full of illusions, in the margin, or in spite of the bombs and the violence.
Salim Shaheen is ” a force, a belief, a form of resistance “. A porte-bonheur, literally, to see the audience, blissful smile.
“What interested me, it was the effect of a magnifying glass,” says Sonia Kronlund. Why, even in times of war, even when we don’t have equipment, we make films ? Why people need image, of fiction, of stories that happen in their country ? Why the Afghans are going to see the movies Shaheen, who are really bad ? “
The success of his character passes through this window of freedom that it offers. Kronlund was seen even in the way that has the man to tell, to tell their stories, and answer questions. He handles the language of wood, lives with innuendo.
The one who calls the director, by a Mr. Sonia full of sarcasm ends however by launch him : “Why are you worried women ? You’re not one of them. “
“This is not my femininity that’s the problem [in Afghanistan], but the fact that I am a foreigner, said, however, the interested main. Him not to treat me ever as a woman. There is no report gendered. I do not fit into any category of what he calls a wife. I’m too old, I’m not married. I don’t fit. “
And the women ?
If Mister Sonia admits that it is she who has imposed his limits, refusing to go into areas too dangerous, it is also because she has agreed to play the game of his interlocutor, a man all in all very conservative.
The character mode does not refuse access to its women. It says that they do not want to be filmed. “I understood very well what he wanted to say,” says the filmmaker.
Nothingwood is punctuated by unspoken. The presence of the actor fetish of Shaheen, a married man which allows cross-dressing, gives amazing scenes, as taken from the… movie.
The producer addict, an actor in his prime, will go up to capture the images that the team Kronlund turns.
“What’s funny [when you watch the film] is that people don’t do very well the difference between my film and those of Salim Shaheen. Himself says that he has done 110 films and that [Nothingwood] is the more difficult it will be done, ” concedes a Sonia Kronlund cheerful, far from offended self-centeredness of his subject.
“I think he has not quite understood what I was doing. Or he cares completely, ” she says.