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Senior Citizen Kane Club: The Prince of Nothingwood

Sonia Kronlund

At Cannes, some of the best discoveries are the ones you least expect, and The Prince of Nothingwood took many of us by surprise. Warm, funny and irreverent, this documentary about maverick Afghan star Salim Shaheen and his band of merry collaborators is a joy. Shaheen is a pleasure to spend time with and the film gives a rare glimpse of life in a country that most of us know only through news headlines.

"...infectiously life affirming."

Self-styled movie mogul Shaheen has made and self-distributed no fewer than 110 movies in war-torn Afghanistan. In love with cinema from an early age, he would regularly sneak into his local cinema to watch Bollywood films, despite the beating he got when his family discovered his antics. Following Shaheen and his crew as they prepare for a new production, we travel from Kabul to Bamiyan and witness his unorthodox methods, which even include – viewer be warned – the sacrifice of a live chicken. Ever pragmatic, Shaheen is prepared to do whatever it takes to get the results he wants.

Director Sonia Kronlund, a radio journalist who has been reporting on Afghanistan for over 15 years, willingly goes on this madcap journey with her larger than life star and the results are infectiously life affirming. The Prince of Nothingwood is a loving tribute to a man who adores creating mass entertainment more than anything else. An absolute delight.