“I’m not going out anymore, the Taliban will punish me”

We had met them at the Cannes Film Festival. It was in 2017. They had come to present at the Directors’ Fortnight a documentary both funny and enlightening by Sonia Kronlund. Baptized Nothingwood, the film told the incredible epic of Salim Shaheen, an Afghan director who could neither read nor write, conqueror, popular and megalomaniac, who turned comedies on VHS (110 on the clock) with makeshift resources and a small team. “Kabul is neither Hollywood nor Bollywood, explained Salim Shaheen, it’s Nothingwood! “

Read the review in “M”: “Nothingwood”, in the footsteps of Afghan Ed Wood

Accompanying a country plunged for forty years in chaos, the director challenged Islamic decorum, danced with women on television sets, made fun of everything, state power as well as the Taliban. He who had escaped attacks, claimed : “I am stronger than death!” “

Salim Shaheen, director: “In today’s Afghanistan, cinema has no place”

Today he is hiding somewhere in Kabul. “I am not afraid of death, he confides on the phone. But I don’t go out into the streets, because I don’t want to be killed by uneducated morons. My films are full of dancing and singing scenes. The Taliban will punish me. They came to my office twice. Fortunately they did not find me there. They call me corrupt, because I have worked with foreigners and traveled abroad. With my family, I got a letter to go to France. But as we got to the airport, the attack [revendiqué par l’organisation Etat islamique, le 27 août] damaged the bus and blocked everything. My friends in France wrote to me asking me to go home. “

Since then, he has been waiting for hypothetical help from abroad. He has a passport, but five of his family do not. He has two wives (polygamy is not prohibited in Afghanistan), five boys and two girls, one is a doctor and the other will have his baccalaureate in a year. One of his sons studied at the French high school in Kabul and speaks the language. “If we come to France, he can help me, he assures. I wait for admirers of cinema around the world to help me. The Taliban are the enemies of art and cinema. They want to apply their own law. Cinema has no place in Afghanistan today. “

Read our review: “Nothingwood”: the legend of Shaheen, ogre of the Afghan Z series

Rigorous ideology

Qurban Ali, the actor who accompanied him to Cannes, a handsome 42-year-old man, father of a family, who dressed as a woman to play the female roles in front of the camera in a country that did not wait for the film to be taken. power by the Taliban to make reign a rigorous ideology, is, him, in France.

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