Wolf and Sheep will depict another Afghanistan at Cannes
by Jorn Rossing Jensen
- Selected for the Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes, Afghan director Shahrbanoo Sadat's feature debut is one of the Danish entries at the festival
Denmark, the only Scandinavian country with a contender for the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes International Film Festival (11-22 May), will also be in the Directors’ Fortnight, although the film comes from 3,000 miles away from the Danish borders: it is Afghan writer-director-producer Shahrbanoo Sadat's feature debut, Wolf and Sheep [+see also:
interview: Shahrbanoo Sadat
film profile]. It will not be the only Nordic country to be featured in the section, as French-Icelandic co-production The Together Project [+see also:
film profile] by late director Solveig Anspach will also be screening there.
Sadat’s first short, Vice Versa One, was selected for the Directors' Fortnight in 2011; she also directed Not at Home (2013) with German producer Katja Adomeit, based in Copenhagen since 2006. Wolf and Sheep was developed with the Cannes Cinéfondation Residency in 2010 – at that time, 20-year-old Sadat was the youngest participant ever selected for the programme.
“Sadat continues to live and work in Afghanistan, in spite of the Taliban's constant attacks on the press and filmmakers. She's one of the first female Afghan directors ever, and with Wolf and Sheep, she wanted to depict another Afghanistan to the one we see in the media – she wants to show life in a village in a part of the country without war and violence,” said Adomeit, who produced the movie for her Copenhagen-based Adomeit Film.
Sadat's original dream was to make her first feature in her own country, but after delaying the production several times for security reasons, Sadat and Adomeit had to accept that the situation in Afghanistan was getting worse every day, so instead they decided to shoot the film in Tajikistan, north of the Afghan border.
Co-produced by France’s La Fabrica Nocturna, Afghanistan’s Wolf Pictures, Zentropa Sweden and Swedish regional film centre Film Väst, Wolf and Sheep takes place in rural Afghanistan, where people believe in the stories they invent and tell in order to explain the mysteries of the world. Shepherd children own the mountains, and even though there are no grown-ups around, they know the rules only too well – number one: boys and girls are not allowed to be together.
The boys practise fighting wolves with their slings, while the girls smoke secretly and play wedding, dreaming of getting a husband soon. They gossip about Sediqa, an outsider, and Qodrat, whose mother gets remarried to an old man with two wives. Sediqa and Qodrat then become friends.
A Producer on the Move at Cannes 2015, Adomeit co-produced Sweden’s Cannes 2014 participant, Ruben Östlund's Force Majeure [+see also:
interview: Ruben Östlund
film profile], which won the Jury Prize in Un Certain Regard. Her first film as producer was New Zealand director Daniel Joseph Borgman's The Weight of Elephants [+see also:
film profile], which was world-premiered at the Berlinale. She is currently in production with Borgman’s Across the Fields, among other movies.
Lastly, Iceland will be present through The Together Project, by late French-American-Icelandic director Solveig Anspach. The film, the third instalment in a comedy trilogy that began with Back Soon [+see also:
film profile] and Queen of Montreuil [+see also:
interview: Solveig Anspach
film profile], tells the story of a crane operator from Montreuil who falls head-over-heels in love with a feisty swimming instructor at the local public swimming pool. Icelandic outfit Zik Zak Filmworks has co-produced the film alongside France's Ex Nihilo, with backing from the Icelandic Film Center.