General Interest => Feed Your Head => Topic started by: BuzzKill on September 24, 2007, 12:02:30 PM

Title: the Kite Runner
Post by: BuzzKill on September 24, 2007, 12:02:30 PM
If you've not yet read this book I'd like to recommend that you do so. It is one of the best books I've read in ages.

On a related note, a movie has been made. I look forward to seeing it, although the movie seldom lives up to the promise of the book. Still, I expect it will be well worth viewing.

On a related note - there is some controversy brewing in regard to the sensitivities of the young actors and their Afghan culture. the article follows:

'Kite Runner' actor's family wants rape scene cut

    * Story Highlights
    * "The Kite Runner" movie contains rape scene of boy
    * Actor in scene says he's worried for himself and family
    * Concerns are that he or family could be ostracized or attacked
    * Film is based on best-selling novel by Khaled Hosseini

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- A 12-year-old Afghan boy starring in the upcoming film "The Kite Runner" fears he and his family could be ostracized or even attacked because of a rape scene that he says he reluctantly acted in -- a sequence the family wants cut.

Ahmad Khan Mahmidzada plays the role of young Hassan, who is raped by a bully in a pivotal part of the best-selling novel, on which the movie is based. His family says the scene will offend Afghans.

"In Afghanistan, rape is not acceptable at all. This is against Afghan dignity. This is against Afghan culture," the boy's father, Ahmad Jaan Mahmidzada, told The Associated Press. "When we argued, they said 'We will cut this part of the film. We will take it out of the script. This part will not be in the film."'

The film's producers, Bennett Walsh and Rebecca Yeldham, said they were surprised by the father's comments "about not being comfortable with the difficult scene" and that they "have the utmost concern for the welfare" of the boys who were in the film.

In an e-mail to The Associated Press, they did not respond to a question about whether they would leave the scene in or take it out.

"When we visited with all the actors and their families in Kabul earlier this year, the families addressed their concerns directly with us and said they were fine with the content of the scene, as long as we portrayed it in a sensitive manner," Walsh and Yeldham told the AP. "We made this a priority and followed their specific instructions." The visit earlier this year came after the scene was filmed in 2006.

"The Kite Runner," based on the 2003 novel by Afghan-American writer Khaled Hosseini, tells the story of two boys and how their relationship is transformed by the act of violence. The story's main character, Amir, witnesses the rape of friend Hassan but does nothing to stop it.

The film is scheduled for U.S. release in late November. Hosseini's second best-selling novel, "A Thousand Splendid Suns," came out earlier this year.

Ahmad Khan was paid $10,000 to portray Hassan -- a hefty sum in Afghanistan, where teachers earn only about $70 per month. But the boy with an endearing, crooked smile said he would never have taken the role had he known Hassan is raped. The family said they found out about the scene only days before it was shot.

"They didn't give me the script. They didn't give me the story of 'The Kite Runner.' If I knew about the story, I wouldn't have participated as an actor in this film," he told the AP.

The father and son, backed by other Afghans on the set's location in China, argued with the filmmakers, and the boy refused to act out the scene.

Mahmidzada said the director told him: "'The film will be a mess without this part.' "

"But I told him 'I'm not thinking about your film. I'm thinking about myself,' " he said. "We are Afghan, and this is not acceptable to us at all."

When the filmmakers wanted his son to take off his pants for the shooting, Mahmidzada refused to let him do it. The scene was instead shot with Ahmad Khan wearing his pants.

The parents are concerned that Afghans will harass Ahmad Khan if they find out his character is raped.

"The people of Afghanistan do not understand that it's only acting or playing a role in a film. They think it has actually happened," Mahmidzada said.

Ahmad Khan worried that his schoolmates will make fun of him.

"It's not one or two people that I have to explain to," he said. "It's all of Afghanistan. How do I make them understand?"

If the film is screened in Afghanistan, Ahmad Khan said his family will lose its dignity. "We won't be able to walk in our neighborhood or in Afghanistan at all," the boy said.

Mahmidzada worries the story will stir ethnic tensions because it plays on stereotypes of Afghan ethnic groups, pitting a Pashtun bully against a lower-class Hazara boy.

Pashtuns, Afghanistan's largest ethnic group, and the Hazara minorities were among several ethnic-based factions that fought bitterly during the country's post-Soviet era civil war. Thousands of Hazaras were slain as the predominantly Pashtun Taliban seized power in the mid-1990s.

Ethnic violence has generally subsided since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, but Afghans fear any trigger that could revive tensions. Many Afghans were angered by the 2006 Indian film "Kabul Express," which portrays Hazara militants as brutal and thuggish.

"There are ethnic problems in Afghanistan -- between Hazara, Pashtun, Tajik and other ethnic groups," Mahmidzada said. "We don't want any problem between any ethnic group in Afghanistan. We want unity among all ethnic groups in Afghanistan."

Manizha Naderi, an Afghan-American working in Kabul, said that if the film gets a lot of publicity, the family has reason for concern.

"If people don't see it, then nobody knows, but if people see it, then ... they'll blame the family and say, 'You're giving Afghans a bad name,' " Naderi said.

Mahmidzada said the company has promised to take care of his family if anything happens to them as a result of the film.

"I'm afraid for the security of my son, and for the security of my family," he said. "I'm not only concerned about threats from my neighbors or relatives. I'm concerned about threats from all Afghan people."

Although he did not particularly like playing the rape scene, Ahmad Khan enjoyed shooting the film and wants to act more.

His suggestion to the film company? "They should take us out of Afghanistan."

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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Should the film producers acquire the family visas and move them to the USA or some other more tolerant "western" nation?
Title: the Kite Runner
Post by: Anonymous on September 24, 2007, 12:13:03 PM
Use a different kid- they're a dime a dozen- and actually rape him.
Title: the Kite Runner
Post by: Che Gookin on December 03, 2007, 06:54:34 PM
great book and I don't blame them for wanting the rape scene axed.
Title: the Kite Runner
Post by: BuzzKill on December 10, 2007, 10:45:19 PM
///great book and I don't blame them for wanting the rape scene axed.///

I don't either - on the other hand - having read the book - I can also see where the story line would suffer if this was cut entirely.

I just finished Khaled Hosseini's second book: A Thousand Splendid Suns. It is also a compelling read; but sad - very sad. Those poor people. . .
Title: the Kite Runner
Post by: Nihilanthic on December 10, 2007, 11:12:52 PM
Art is art. Sometimes you need something really spicy or strong in food to make the dish.

Sometimes part of performance art is shock or revulsion. Sometimes part of a speech is pissing you off. Sometimes you need the thorn with the rose.

I really think we need to demonstrate the whole "freedom means letting people do things you don't want them to do" principle of a free nation to Afghanistan, but that's just me.
Title: the Kite Runner
Post by: Oz girl on December 17, 2007, 07:47:56 PM
It would be rare that I would say this but they should have used american kids. It is easy to say that art is art but those 2 boys have to live within that culture after the cameras stop rolling. Their needs should be paramount.
Title: the Kite Runner
Post by: BuzzKill on December 18, 2007, 10:36:43 AM
I did recently read that they are moving the families. I can't recall where to, except that it wasn't to the USA but a different country in the region. I guess maybe they felt it was best to get them out of the neighborhood - but not completely out of the culture. I hope the boys and their families got to say where they wanted to go - and I hope they are given every assistance in getting set up in their new home.

Having looked at some clips of this film, I suspect they needed Afgan boys to keep with the authentic feel they were striving for. The language use and so on.

On a related note: I am sure you have been following the case of the Sudie raped woman, sentenced to jail and 200 lashes who recently had the King commute her sentence. Did you know the man she was with was also raped - and received the same sentence - and he has not had his sentence commuted. You don't hear about that.