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January Special : French film Kabullywood harnesses youths' hunger for arts

By Rosslyn Hyams

A group of friends - a musican, an actress, a documentary maker and an artist in the Afghan capital Kabul - decide to follow their dream to establish a culture centre in the city after the Taliban clamp-down on arts.

RFi's Rosslyn Hyams speaks to Kabullywood's director Louis Meunier.

Four friends set about renovating a disused cinema inhabited by the former projectionist and a bunch of orphans.

Roya Heydari plays Shab, a young woman who against the wishes of her brother, hangs out with her male artist friends. Farid Joya is her mean brother Khaled. Ghulam Reza Rajabi is the painter, Mustafa. A contemporary guitar player, Qais, is driven by his desire to compose, and Mohd Qais Shaghasy take this role. The project leader, reluctant at first, but eager to impress Shab, is called Sikander. He's a documentary film maker whose father and police-chief is concerned primarily about his son's well-being and future.

Kabullywood champions freedom of expression in a place where it is curtailed. But it's also about generational misunderstandings. It has the feel of a first feature film, with a certain freshness and intuitive experimentation. However, it's not just any debut. It was made against the odds in Kabul, where Louis Meunier and his crew had to deal with real-life security issues.

Kabullywood Director Louis Meunier (L), actor Omid Rawendah (R), Paris 2019 RFI/Sophie Torlotin

The docu-fiction is a brave attempt to show the enthusiasm and convictions of some Afghans to defend and keep art and artists alive.

Listen to the interview with the link above.

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