Anneta Papathanasiou: Laughing in Afghanistan

There is quite an interview in this both entertaining and scary documentary: Mohammad Sadic Akif Mujahir, spokesman for the Ministry of Propagation of Virtue and prevention of Vice, says that music is a satanic art… and reflects, rather he states that there are three kinds of smiles: There is the one where the lips are sealed, then there´s the smile where you can see the teeth, and then there´s the loud laughter. Which is a bad thing in our society, he says. A mullah, just after the interview, shouts that loud laughter is not allowed in the new (taliban) Afghanistan, which leaves no space for charming actor Karim Asir, the protagonist of the film, who wants to be the Afghan Chaplin, and that he can fill in that role, is demonstrated elegantly by Anneta Papathanasiou, organising small Chaplin b/w sketches as we know them. They make us laugh but they can not be performed in the home country of Karim, the country he had to leave after death threats when he had performed.

Anneta Papathanasiou could have made a reportage style film with interviews, she decided “to go with” the actor, tell his story, do it in a way full of charm and funny episodes – and then cut to Karim to have him express emotionally NOT to be in his country and make people happy with his art. Touching!

According to Anneta Papathanasiou the film has done well in cinema screenings, it will be shown at Al Jazeera Balkan and at festivals, I am sure, it has an audience. My recommendation!

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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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