Monday, October 08, 2007

KITE RUNNER Opening Delayed Due to Rape Scene

Ahmad Khan Mahmoodzada (Hassan, a Hazara servant's son, L) and Zekiria Ebrahimi (Amir, the Pashtun protagonist, R) portray lifelong
friends from rival Afghan ethnic groups in THE KITE RUNNER.

Yesterday, The New York Times reported that the U.S. opening of the movie THE KITE RUNNER, scheduled for the 2nd of November, will be postponed because of safety concerns for the three Afghan boys who star in the movie, as well as their families. One source said the movie's release would be delayed until 14 December, another reported no new opening date has been determined.

The controversy stems from a scene where Amir's friend Hassan is raped by a Parshtun bully. The scene is filmed impressionistically, not realistically, but even the suggestion of such an act in the Muslim culture has generated outcries and threats.

THE KITE RUNNER is based on the 2003 novel of the same title by Khaled Hosseini, an award-winning book that was at, or near, the top of the New York Times best-seller list for almost three years. Marc Forster (FINDING NEVERLAND, 2002) directed the film version, which he chose to film in English, Dari, Pashtu, Urdu, and Russian.

Author Hosseini is Afghani, and his novel covers three decades (1970 - 2000) of Afghan strife, from before the Soviet invasion through the rise of the Taliban. There has also been continuing strife between the Poshtun wealthy Sunni ruling class and the poorer Shi'ite serving class, the Hazara.

The protagonist is Amir, a wealthy Pashtun boy. The part of Amir as a boy is played in the movie by Zekiria Ebrahimi, and as a young man by Khalid Abdalla, who played the pilot / hijacker Ziad Jarrah in UNITED 93 (2006).

Amir's mother died giving birth. He was raised by his wealthy Pashtun father, whom he calls Baba, and his father's Hazara servant, Ali, who has a son, Hassan (Ahmad Khan Mahmoodzada), one year younger than Amir. Hassan's mother left his father when Hassan was a baby.

Life is good for Amir, except for a Pashtun Hitler-admiring bully, who later joins the Taliban. One evening, the bully rapes Hassan while Amir hides, doing nothing and saying nothing even after the incident. Because of Hassan's shame and Amir's guilt, the bond between Amir and Hassan is irreconcilably broken, leading to the distruction of the friendship between their two fathers.

When the Soviets invade Afghanistan, Amir and Baba are forced to escape, eventually finding asylum in the U.S. The story is told in three sections: Amir and Baba in Afghanistan prior to the Soviet invasion, their lives in America where Amir falls in love, and Amir's return to Afghanistan where he finds an unexpected gift.

Anyone who watches the evening news, or follows the news on the web, has little doubt that there is rising lawlessness in Afghanistan and especially in its capital, Kabul. Plus, the young actors in the movie and their relatives are now accusing the filmmakers of mistreatment and paying the boys much less than American actors would have been paid. As a result, the producers of the film, executives at the distributor Paramount Vantage, and even aide workers, have become more concerned about the safety of those in Afghanistan who are involved with the film project.

Apparently, this past Sunday steps were taken in the United Arab Emirates to begin the process of getting the boys and their families out of Afghanistan. A Middle East specialist at the consulting firm Kissinger McLarty Associates has been hired to arrange visas, housing and schooling for the young actors and jobs for their guardians. Bringing them to the United States is not an option because Afghans, like the majority of Iraqis, do not qualify for refugee status.

For much more information, note about the harassment of a young boy in the Indian movie KABUL EXPRESS, and to watch THE KITE RUNNER trailer, see the entire article (click title of this post, a link, or here).

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for commenting! Mimi