BBC TwoNewsnight Review
Page last updated at 14:24 GMT, Thursday, 23 April 2009 15:24 UK

Newsnight Review: 24 April 2009

Afghanistan's culture and history comes under the spotlight this week, as the panel discuss The Great Game theatre festival, and take a look at documentary film Afghan Star about the country's X Factor-inspired talent show.

The panel also discuss Born Under A Million Shadows, the latest novel set in Afghanistan, and, shifting focus back to the UK, takes a look at urban thriller Shifty.

FILM | Shifty

Daniel Mays (The Bank Job, Plus One) and Riz Ahmed (Britz, Dead Set) star in this British urban thriller, from writer and director Eran Creevy, which follows 24 hours in the life of a young drug dealer.

Watch the panel discuss Shifty

Chris (Mays) returns home to visit his childhood friend Shifty (Ahmed). In the four years since they have seen each other their lives have diverged considerably.

Although Shifty is ostensibly pleased to see Chris, it soon becomes clear that the pair parted in difficult circumstances.

During Chris' absence, Shifty has started to deal hard drugs and has got out of his depth. Problems with a desperate client and his supplier threaten to derail him.

Shifty, Eran Creevy's first feature film, was shot in 18 days with a budget of £100,000 and was supported by London's Microwave division.

Shifty opens in cinemas on Friday 24 April.

FILM | Afghan Star

The award-winning documentary film Afghan Star follows the fortunes of four contestants in Afghanistan's first televised singing contest, which captured the public imagination.

The panel discuss Afghan Star

The popular, Western-style format takes its inspiration from shows like Pop Idol and X Factor, inviting controversy from the more conservative elements of Afghan society.

It looks at the cultural impact of the series, in what was for many, their first taste of democratic participation and electoral campaigning.

The two female competitors become controversial figures as the contest progresses, with one of the singers receiving death threats for dancing onstage without her head-dress.

Eleven million people watched the final of Afghan Star - a third of Afghanistan's population.

Afghan Star will have a limited cinema release in May and will be broadcast on Channel 4 later this year.

THEATRE | The Great Game

Ramon Tikaram and Jemma Redgrave star in this new series of 12 plays charting Afghanistan's history from 1842 to the present day.

The panel discuss The Great Game

The Tricycle Theatre commissioned the plays - by writers including Richard Bean, Abi Morgan and David Edgar - to explore the country's culture and its relationship to Western countries.

The works are performed in three parts with four plays in each: Part 1: 1842-1930 Invasions and Independence; Part 2: 1979-1996 Communism; The Mujahideen and The Taliban; and Part 3: 1996-2009 Enduring Freedom.

The project is at the centre of the theatre's Afghanistan festival which hopes to unpick preconceptions about the country's identity and explore why it continues to be at the centre of foreign policy in the West.

The Great Game is at Tricycle Theatre, London, until Sunday 14 June.

BOOK | Born Under A Million Shadows

Born Under A Million Shadows is former Sun and News of the World journalist Andrea Busfield's first novel.

The panel discuss Andrea Busfield's debut novel

She first travelled to Afghanistan to report on the fall of the Taleban in October 2001. In 2005 she returned there as editor of a Kabul newspaper. The book was born out of her experiences during her three years in Kabul.

It tells the story of 11-year-old Fawad, an Afghan boy living in Kabul, whose father and brother have been killed and sister abducted.

His mother secures a job as a housekeeper for a young Western woman who is caught up in a complex love affair with an Afghan warlord and Fawad is drawn into the adult world around him.

Born Under a Million Shadows is out now, published by Black Swan.

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