EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|TURTLES CAN FLY (Lakposhtha hâm parvaz mikonand) (director/writer: Bahman Ghobadi; cinematographer: Shahram Assadi; editors: Mustafa Kherqepush/Haydeh Safi-Yari; music: Housein Alizadeh; cast: Avaz Latif (Agrin), Soran Ebrahim (Satellite), Saddam Hossein Feysal (Pashow), Hiresh Feysal Rahman (Hengov), Abdol Rahman Karim (Riga), Ajil Zibari (Shirkooh); Runtime: 98; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producer: Bahman Ghobadi; IFC Films; 2004-Iraq-in Kurdish with English subtitles)|
to let the world know something about the Kurdish people and their
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Bahman Ghobadi ("A Time for Drunken Horses"/"Marooned in Iraq"), a Kurdish director from Iran, in his third feature intends to let the world know something about the Kurdish people and their suffering. "Turtles" is a grim look at the hardships endured by the Kurds living on the Iraqi side of the border with Turkey, in a refugee camp and a small nearby village called Kanibo, just at the onset of America's 2003 second invasion of Iraq. The film stars local nonprofessionals as actors, in a cast made up primarily of children (it's through the children's eyes we view the narrative). It has the distinction of being the first feature made in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein.
Soran Ebrahim stars as Satellite, a personable and resolute
boy nicknamed for his obsession with putting up dishes for all the
in the area. He convinces the village elders to install a satellite
to pick up news of the coming conflict. Satellite
has become the leader of a horde of orphan children living in the
camp near the impoverished village, taking on the role of surrogate
translator, and life-saver to the kids who flock around him. Under his
command the children, of whom many are missing arms and legs, forage in
scrap heaps and fields for unexploded mines, which they sell to locals
who then sell it to U.N. personnel for even greater profit.
Satellite finds himself
a newly arrived unhappy orphan girl, Agrin (Avaz
Latif), who stays in the refugee camp with her armless older brother,
(Hiresh Feysal Rahman),
and a little
blind boy that might or might not be a relative. Henkov searches the
and detonates the mines with his teeth to earn his meager living to
the family and he also has the ability to make predictions, a gift that
others value more than he does. Seeing the future does not make him a
camper (the allegorical theme of the film). Finding some joy in
to survive in such chaotic conditions and driven to help the suicidal
anyway he can, Satellite brings her water, dives for red fish, and with
the little money he saves he purchases for her a gift of an
necklace, but it's all in vain and it seems to have no effect in
the haunted girl's broken heart (the other allegorical theme, the
are so downtrodden that it's too late for anyone to help them).
The energetic film, with a dark sense of humor, charges into one impending critical situation after another and never pauses to look back to evaluate what took place. Many possible subplots are brought up and just as quickly are forgotten (such as, an Iranian doctor in Iraq searching for an armless boy who makes predictions). It's a messy film but is strangely lyrical and moving, as it paints its ugly picture of a war-torn country that was promised by Bush that this war would make things better. The final shot of the once optimistic Satellite, now on crutches from a minefield explosion, turning his back on the American soldiers passing through his village, the same soldiers he a short time ago welcomed as the saviors of his people, tells us how that optimism has faded. It's a tale of the human condition that can't help reminding you of Dickens' "Oliver Twist.''
REVIEWED ON 11/20/2005 GRADE: B+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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