Saturday, October 06, 2007

Kite Runner Movie Premier Delayed by Six Weeks

The opening of the movie version of The Kite Runner has been delayed for something like six weeks because of concerns over the safety of two of the Afghani child actors who are prominently featured in the film. According to several news sources, including the Los Angeles Times (with thanks to Annie for first bringing this to my attention), the children will be taken out of the country for their own safety before the movie will be seen publicly.

Three Afghan boys who appear in the film "The Kite Runner" will be brought to the United States on a temporary visit and could go on to reside in United Arab Emirates after concern for their safety was raised over a culturally inflammatory rape scene in the film.

"The kids have been told they've been invited to the United States and they are going to spend their summer vacation, essentially, because they are out of school on Dec. 6," said Megan Colligan, a spokeswoman for Paramount Vantage, which is distributing the movie. "They resume school at the end of March, so they know they are being asked to leave the country for that period of time."

The film will now be released in selected U.S. cities on Dec. 14 instead of the previously announced Nov. 2. The New York Times reported Thursday that the studio was postponing the movie's release to give the three child actors the chance to leave Kabul for safety reasons.
Ahmad Jaan Mahmidzada, whose son, Ahmad Khan Mahmidzada, plays Hassan, told the Associated Press that Paramount Vantage "promised us that they will solve whatever problem that we have now or we might have in the future."

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.
"People believe there is a variety of opinions about whether or not the boys would be secure if a pirated copy entered the country," Colligan said. "We are taking a pretty conservative approach. If any credible person believes there is a credible risk for them, we are making sure the boys are safe. We moved the release day in case the boys want to serve out their school year."

"Our primary concern is the safety and welfare of the kids," director Marc Forster said Thursday in a phone call from Chicago.

The director said the controversy over the rape scene took him by surprise because the film is rated PG-13 and the scene itself is "impressionistic."

He noted that the father of one of the children who is now complaining never protested while they were in rehearsals.
Forster said they showed the father the script along with the book. "We talked about it. We rehearsed the scene twice with the father present and he never said anything."
Having lived in an Arab country for a number of years, this doesn't surprise me. I don't want to be too explicit about the rape scene in the movie (and in the book) because it would serve as a spoiler for those who have yet had the experience of reading the book. I'll just say that what is depicted in that scene is punishable by the death penalty if adults in some Arab countries are caught doing it, so there is definitely the possibility of some backlash toward the actors in that scene. Why no one figured this out before is beyond me.


  1. Sounds like a case of typical ignorance about other cultures. And typical not bothering to find out when it might matter a lot!

  2. It amazes me that it came to this, Dewey. I don't understand the parents who let their children shoot the scene in question either, though. Surely, if anyone was to understand what could happen, it was them. Now I wonder if they aren't going to exploit the potential danger to gain a free pass to a better life in some Western country. Makes me wonder if this was their plan all along...