With budgets only a fraction of those of Hollywood or Bollywood films and its semi-professional nature, Afghan cinema can be called Nothingwood. That said, it still has its own star in Salim Shaheen, an actor, director, and producer well known throughout the country who has made more than 100 films. His work has been inspiring and encouraging inhabitants of the war-torn country for nearly 40 years, and even the Taliban, who banned films, have sold his on the black market. In order to understand the phenomenon of Shaheen, French documentary filmmaker Sonia Kronlund accompanied him on the set of his latest, 111th project, which is based on his own life. In getting to know the star, we discover, at the same time, the dark side and the splendor of life in Afghanistan, the culture, difficult history, and customs of the country, as well as its stunning mountainous landscape. Screened at this year's Cannes Festival, Nothingwood is a story of love for cinema, the pursuit of childhood dreams, and the role of the artist in difficult times.
A graduate of the Sorbonne in Paris, Sonia Kronlund has worked as a radio and television reporter. She co-wrote the screenplay for Thomas Gilou's film Rai (1995), winner of a Golden Leopard in Locarno. Since 2002, she has been producing the show Les Pieds sur terre for France Culture public radio, for which she has also prepared numerous radio broadcasts from Iran and Afghanistan, which she also documented for Arte. She published a collection of stories called Nouvelles du réel in 2012. Nothingwood is her full-length feature debut.