Friday, September 21, 2007

Film of 'Kite Runner' Novel Sparks Safety Concerns

Film of 'Kite Runner' Novel Sparks Safety Concerns
Listen to this story... by Kim Masters

Morning Edition, September 20, 2007 · Khaled Hosseini's best-selling novel Kite Runner opens as a film in November. But it is already causing concern in Afghanistan and in Hollywood for its depiction of ethnic tensions in Afghanistan and harsh portrayal of life under the Taliban.

[The interview discusses the safety of the children who starred in the film. Ahmad Jean, the father of Ahman Khan who plays the role of the boy who is sexually assaulted, says that he had no idea his boy would be playing such a role. He says the filmmakers only told him that the movie was about flying kites in Kabul.

He says that the victims of such a crime would be stigmatized in his society and even playing the role of a victim would put his son in jeopardy. The film will not be released in Afghanistan, but DVDs will eventually get there. He feels he may need to leave Kabul.]

More from the BBC

By Charles Haviland BBC News, Kabul
Book-lovers and movie-goers are eagerly awaiting the release this November of the film version of a much-loved novel, the worldwide bestseller, The Kite Runner. But it is running into controversy in Afghanistan, the country where most of it is set, and among Afghan diaspora communities.

The film version has been shot in one of Afghanistan's main languages, Dari, and using ordinary Afghans in many of the roles - including the three principal children, who were chosen from among 2,000 in Kabul schools.

That is a brave move aimed at achieving maximum authenticity. But it has created unforeseen hitches.

11-year-old Ahmad Khan Mahmidzada, the boy who plays Hassan, and his father Ahmad Jaan.

The father says it was only after arriving in Kashgar in western China - where the film was shot for security reasons - that he learned of the rape scene, and that he wanted to withdraw his son from it.

"When I told them I would not let Ahmad Khan take part in this film, they said: 'We won't film that scene'," he says.

Ahmad Khan is the perfect actor for Hassan - like the fictional boy, he is always smiling.

But, like his father, he is uneasy about the film in which he is starring.

"They didn't tell me about the story of this book," he tells me in English, recalling the audition and the casting.

[Amad Jean:] "My own people from my own tribe will turn against me because of the story."

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