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Three to see today: Friday 13 October

Three unmissable films with tickets still available at today's BFI London Film Festival.

The Prince of Nothingwood

A rousing behind-the-scenes account of the life of Salim Shaheen, Afghanistan’s most prolific actor/director, and a one-man charisma-bomb.

A joyous and rousing portrait of Salim Shaheen, Afghanistan’s most popular actor, director and producer, who has made a record 110 films over 30 years. Radio journalist Sonia Kronlund had been covering the atrocities of war in Afghanistan for 20 years when she heard about Shaheen. Determined to finally tell a positive story, she followed the self-proclaimed ‘Prince of Nothingwood’ around the country as he worked on his latest project – a film about his escapades. This larger-than-life, Ed Wood-esque character, bred on Indian cinema and greeted by adoring fans wherever he goes, smuggles his war B-movies into town halls to the delight of transfixed audiences. Kronlund offers a fascinating behind-the-scenes account of the man’s life and work, and the art of filmmaking in a war zone. Shaheen’s ebullient creativity, despite the bombings and the Taliban’s constant threats, is the ultimate act of resistance against oppression.

Laure Bonville

Abu

A kaleidoscopic personal documentary in the vein of Sarah Polley’s Stories We Tell, exploring family dynamics, emerging sexuality and Pakistani-Canadian identity.

Watch the trailer

A compelling documentary about a young Pakistani man’s difficulties in coping with migration and the resultant cultural change, his emerging sexuality and an increasingly orthodox father. Arshad Khan’s unique and moving documentary explores his fragmented family life. They moved from a happy existence in Pakistan to become struggling immigrants in Toronto. In the 1980s, Arshad’s liberal, fun-loving father recorded his family in and around their Islamabad home – a seemingly carefree place where they lived in harmony with each other. This charming footage is the emotional backbone of the film and presents a stark contrast to their contemporary life and how each member attempts to adapt to their new circumstances. Arshad’s father, in particular, becomes increasingly conservative, embracing a religious dogma and its accompanying practices. As for Arshad, he faces prejudice, an increasingly tense relationship at home and struggles with his sexuality, before finally embracing an identity that is Pakistani, Canadian and queer.

Cary Rajinder Sawhney

Trailer

Cargo

Tensions erupt when three sons are forced to take over a failing family fisheries business in this dark and compelling North Sea drama.

When the craggy patriarch of a struggling North Sea fishing company falls overboard, his eldest son has to take over the family business, igniting dark tensions between three brothers. LFF alumnus Gilles Coulier delivers this finely observed feature debut about masculine codes of behaviour in a family notably absent of women. Stern and serious Jean (brilliant Flemish actor Sam Louwyck) is single father to an 8-year-old and sees a dying fisheries business as having no possible future. Younger sibling Francis must hide his secret lover and desperately wants to escape to seek happiness. Only black sheep William, returning home to an indifferent welcome, wants to carry on the family trade. Cinematographer David Williamson (Flemish Heaven, LFF2016) draws out the blues and blacks of each shot of this powerful film, emphasising the age-old traditions of this world and the turbulent seas to which the family are inexorably linked.

Tricia Tuttle

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