An acclaimed director is flying thousands of miles to Kilburn to attend a film festival about life in one of the world's most war-torn countries. CHRIS KING looks ahead to The Great Game: Afghanistan festival, starting this week

FOLLOWING a sell-out season, the Olivier award-nominated The Great Game: Afghanistan festival is coming back to the Tricycle Theatre, in Kilburn High Road, for a limited run before embarking on an American tour.

The Tricycle Cinema will host a five-day programme of documentaries and short films from tomorrow (Friday) alongside a mini-theatre festival on the same theme.

Promoters say the film festival is designed to give a 'celluloid glimpse into the joys, sorrows and adventures of everyday life in Afghanistan'.

Many filmmakers and directors will attend the film festival, including international award-winning director Siddiq Barmak, who is flying over specially from Afghanistan.

Barmak ran the Afghan Film Organisation until 1996, when his work was banned by the Taliban, who had just taken power in Kabul.

His most acclaimed work, Opium War, winner of the Best Film award at the 2008 Rome Film Festival, will be shown alongside a collection of his short films and he will take part in a question and answer session.

The film festival encourages the exchange of ideas between artists and audiences, and as such there will be a series of such question and answer sessions with the visiting filmmakers.

Kicking off the programme on the Friday will be a screening of Havana Marking's critically-acclaimed Afghan Star, a film on the rebirth of pop music culture through the Pop Idol-style television series of the same name.

Vote Afghanistan! will also be shown, telling the story of the 2009 presidential election in the country, which was mired in controversy and full of unanswered questions.

Wahid Naziri's film, Rabia of Bactria, caused a sensation in Afghanistan on its release in 1965 and its daring portrayal of a sexually liberated,politically emboldened female was only saved from the Taliban by brave, daring activists who hid it in the National Film Archive.

This, along with Khaleq A'lil's The Suitor will be shown this Sunday (July 25).

Viewers can also watch films on the subject of the poppy the following evening: Lucy Gordon's documentary This Is My Destiny and Jawed Taimans film Addicted in Afghanistan both offer unique insights into the true extent of drug addiction and the power of opium in Afghanistan.

A series of short films produced by local first-time filmmakers in Kabul will be shown, providing a first-hand perspective on the reality of life in Afghanistan and the country's ongoing reconstruction, before Jamie Doran's controversial film, The Dancing Boys of Afghanistan, closes the festival.

The film tells the story of the hundreds of young boys who are lured out of extreme poverty by the promise of a new life, only to find themselves part of an ancient tradition known as Bacha Bazi, or 'boys for play', which has re-emerged across the country having been banned by the Taliban.

* Tickets can be bought for individual showings, with prices either £6 or £7 and available from the Tricycle Theatre box office on 020 7328 1000.