The show must go on, and movies must get made, and this holds true even or especially in troubled war zones. Film-maker Sonia Kronlund has made this funny and affectionate documentary portrait of veteran Afghan movie mogul Salim Shaheen: actor, producer, director and creator of more than 100 features. He is the prince of an industry he calls “Nothingwood” – a Hollywood that must make do with nothing at all.
The indomitable and bulky Shaheen, perennially giving his cast and public observers rousing pep talks and calling for a round of applause, resembles . He admires the Bollywood style and the Bollywood work ethic and his work resembles those films, with a strong dash of the cheap’n’cheerful action shlock produced by Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus at Cannon Films in the 80s. There is also a weird dash of Carry On camp comedy.
Shaheen carried on shooting throughout times of strife and bloodshed, and his movies have stayed popular, even, according to rumour, with Taliban and Islamic State fighters, for whom they were presumably the guiltiest of guilty pleasures. There are very amusing scenes when he casts his son, despite evidence that the boy is not a natural performer. He shouts one of the best pieces of direction I have ever heard: “Act than that!”