It’s been awhile since we’ve heard from Afghanistan Sam, my buddy who’s been living in Kabul for the past several years. Back in 2008 he guest-blogged about how to buy, slaughter and spit-roast a sheep, and we saw a bit of his short film about a young woman who was embroiled in controversy (and death threats) after coming forward as Afghanistan’s first female Olympian. So what’s Sam been up to over the past few years? Among other things, he’s founded the Afghan Film Project, which has a mandate to foster Afghanistan’s film industry and train the next generation of Afghan filmmakers. Part of how they’re getting things off the ground is by making a short film, written and directed by Sam, but crewed largely by local folks, called “Buzkashi Boys.”
Buzkashi, for those of you who don’t know (and I certainly didn’t), is the national sport of Afghanistan. It’s a team sport played on horseback, and it’s a bit like Polo, but instead of a ball they use the headless carcass of a goat. There was a great article in the Times of London recently about Sam’s film, which is now in post-production. I love the image it opens with:
“This is going to be awesome,” boomed the American director through his megaphone. The Afghan horsemen lined up on a muddy plain near the outskirts of Kabul boomed back, “Allahu Akbar!” as they punched the air. So began “Buzkashi Boys,” a US-funded film based on Afghanistan’s national sport. The film’s plot centres on two boys, a street urchin and the son of a blacksmith, as they follow their dream of becoming buzkashi riders. “I wanted to show the world that this is not just a country at war but full of people who have dreams and hopes like everywhere else,” said French.
Finding capable child actors in a country where, until recently, making and watching movies had been outlawed, was no easy task. “It’s been really hard, but I’ve really enjoyed it,” said Fawad Mohammedi, 12, who plays the urchin. “I’ve learned how to act sad by remembering the death of my father.”
Powerful stuff. I can’t wait to see the finished film, but in the meantime, Sam’s created this short trailer, shot on location in Kabul.