Mike Wheeler

Sam Smith is an Australian actor who works in film, television and theatre. His most recent roles include the HBO drama series The Leftovers and Jennifer Kent’s The Nightingale. His past performances include lead roles in Ben Briand's Hammer Bay, winner of both the MTV Optus 180 Project and the Creative Annual Best Long Form Project; and Some Static Started, which was nominated for an Australian Directors Guild award.



Afghan taxi driver

Sher Alam Miskeen Ustad was the former chief Palace Guard of former Afghan President Mohammed Daoud, who was assassinated in 1978 by the communist opposition. Before the coup he was part of a small theatre group in Kabul. When the Russian army invaded the following year, Sher Alam joined the Mujahideen resistance and became renown for having decimated several Russian tanks with a single RPG launcher from a mountaintop. He was the only survivor when Russian helicopters responded and killed more than 30 of his friends. The first film he ever saw was Rambo 3 which lionised the Afghan mujahedin, many of whom would later become the Taliban. When the Taliban took power in the early nineties Sher Alam fled to Pakistan with his family. He now works in a sweet shop, playing his rabab (traditional lute) at local weddings in the frontier city of Kohat. Sher Alam played the father of the lead character in Gilmour’s Son of a Lion.



English-speaking Taleb

Amir Shah Talash is an Afghan actor and producer based in Jalalabad. He is known for the action and thriller films he self-funds by working nights, unloading bags of cement. Talash has become a house-hold name in Afghanistan, particularly in Pashtun areas. He is trained in Taikwando, which he uses to fight off dozens of gangsters at a time, whenever he plays the hero. Talash works with Australian director George Gittoes at The Yellow House, his artist’s collective in Jalalabad. On Jirga, Amir Shah Talash played Sher Khan’s (the Taliban leader) right-hand man, and was also the local producer for the film.