- Title: USA: Cast of "The Kite Runner" address film controversy
- Date: 6th December 2007
- Summary: WIDE OF PEOPLE ON CARPET
- Embargoed: 21st December 2007 12:00
- Location: Usa
- Country: USA
- Reuters ID: LVAEH9JS4SNQ4LSQ15JO9V8V4NLM
- Story Text: The two lead child actors from the film "The Kite Runner" were noticeably missing from the Los Angeles, California premiere of the "The Kite Runner" on Tuesday (December 4).
Four Afghan boys aged 11 to 14 have been spirited out of Afghanistan to a haven in the Middle East to protect them from potential reprisals ahead of the world release of the film in which they star.
The film includes a rape scene involving individuals from two rival tribes. Although the scene is sensitively portrayed, with the unstrapping of a belt rather than graphic action, it has prompted fears of possible ethnic unrest. The studio delayed the release of the film by six weeks to December 14 to give time to guarantee the boys' safety.
The four boys include Ahmad Khan Mahmidzada, now 13, who plays Hassan, a low-caste member of the Hazara tribe; and Zekeria Ebrahimi, 11, who is cast in the role of Hassan's best friend, a relatively rich Pashtun called Amir. In a key scene Amir fails to intervene when Hassan is raped by a Pashtun man - a betrayal that develops through the film and lies at its emotional core.
"You know it the scene in the screenplay is almost identical to the scene in the book," said David Benioff the film's screenplay writer.
"It's the pivotal scene in the book and there was never any thought of deleting it. I think that the way that Marc handled it he calls it impressionistic it's not graphic at all. You dont see any skin or anything like that. It is the most important scene in the book for a lot of reasons and I wanted to be faithful to that as possible and that is what it is in the screenplay and the movie. I am just really glad they are in a safe place right now. I mean everyone who worked in the movie feel in love with those boys and you know the actors can probably talk about it better then I can and the director because they worked with them so closely. You know it's a scary thing . They are kids and they are great kids and you want them to be in a safe place and we believe that they are."
The boys and their guardians have been taken to an unidentified town in the United Arab Emirates where they have been placed in a school with many other Afghan children. Paramount Pictures, the studio behind the film, The Kite Runner, has promised to care for the children during the release period and possibly up to the end of their schooling.
Based one the highly-acclaimed novel, The Kite Runner is a tale of friendship, family, devastating mistakes and redeeming love. In a divided country on the verge of war, two childhood friends, Amir and Hassan, are about to be torn apart forever. It tells the story of Afghanistan over three decades, from before the Soviet invasion to the rise of the Taliban and beyond.
"No I always wish that I could say that I've read the book before I was asked to audition for the film, " said actor Khalid Abdalla who portrays "Amir" in the film. "But I hadn't so maybe I should start lying but anyway. I was called about it and then I went and bought the book and read it shortly afterwards and had the only person to have the experience of reading the book with knowledge that I might just be playing this lead character and wanting to give everything I had to it."
Director Marc Forster brings to life Khaled Hosseini's best-seller with a globally diverse cast and crew, mixing a remarkable group of non-actors from Afghanistan and Central Asia with an international cast. The film is based on the novel of the same name by the Afghan-American writer Khaled Hosseini and is one of the highlights of the autumn season, with high hopes for the Oscars.
"Well I mean its been a great experience, author Khaled Hosseini told Reuters. He continued "I have been lucky to have producers who have done several adaptations of novels and all have been successful. Marc Forster is a real artist he has done a fantastic job with this movie. It's a movie that will stand on its own two legs regardless of my novel. Although it's a great companion piece to my novel but it takes the audience on the same kind of emotional arc the same kind of journal as the novel. I think the controversy will die down because I think people will see the film and see that this is not a film about sexual abuse and some of the things reported in the news are really kind of hypothetical to what this film is about. Which is about forgiveness, harmony, tolerance, and love , and friendship, and brotherhood and so on and so forth. I think people will see that and they will walk away with a sense that this is a film that stands for very positive things. I think the children who are now out of Afghanistan are in safety, good spirits, good health. I think the children will be praised and celebrated. I for one am very proud of them I cant wait for them to get their due and their moment in the sun as it were."
Most cinemas in Afghanistan were destroyed by the Taliban, but pirated copies of major films are easily available in the country. Security has deteriorated since the relatively stable period during which the roles were first cast.
"The Kite Runner" will be released on December 14th in New York and Los Angeles and across the United States in January 2008.
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