Scott: This may look and sound like a summer blockbuster but in Afghanistan, it is all too real. But this war-torn country is now the setting for an Oscar-nominated film. And this story is not set with a backdrop of war, but about the national sport of Afghanistan – buzkashi, a more brutal form of polo.
The Buzkashi Boys is a coming-of-age film which is also true for the film’s two teenage stars, 14-year-old Fawad Mohammadi and 15-year-old Jawanmard Paiz.
Jawanmard Paiz: Everybody thinks that Afghanistan is a demolished country, a bad country. But that’s not the real face of Afghanistan.
Scott: American Director Sam French filmed in Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, hoping to restore an art form almost totally destroyed there.
Sam French: When the Taliban came in, they burned all the cinemas and the film reels they could find and they banned cinema.
Scott: The Taliban, an Islamic extremist group, controlled Afghanistan until the U.S. invaded in 2001. The Taliban outlawed most forms of music and art, including movies. And even though the U.S. kicked the Taliban out of power, the group is still a threat to U.S. troops there and Afghan people who don’t obey their strict religious laws. The boys know that any fame from this movie could come at a price if the Taliban tries to punish them.
Jawan: Life is very difficult in Afghanistan, especially to us.
Sam: These kids are incredibly courageous and they want a better future for themselves, just like the characters in the movie.
Scott: And with their whirlwind trip to America, full of interviews and appearances, going home will be bittersweet.
Fawad: I think we will miss everything here a lot.
Scott: But what they will miss most is the feeling of freedom, a feeling not always felt in Afghanistan.
Fawad: No. I can say that here, I am so safe.
Sam: When I was 14, I was reading science fiction books in my bedroom and, you know, playing on my nice green lawn. All the kids in Afghanistan have grown up too fast.
Scott: Reality may still be harsh, but for now it can wait.
Jawan: On the red carpet, everyone says – every photographer says – ‘Look at me! Look at me! Look at me!’ It’s a dream of every actor to go to the Oscars on the red carpet.
Scott: Scott Evans, Channel One News.
- What is buzkashi?
- What is a “coming of age” film?
- What effect did the Taliban have on cinema in Afghanistan?
- Why could fame from this movie cause trouble for the boys when they return to Afghanistan?
- Why will returning home be bittersweet for the boys?