Due to Afghan mores concerning male rape, Paramount Vantage agreed to relocate the young actors out of the country to the United Arab Emirates and arrange visas, housing and schooling for the young actors and jobs for their guardians. Paramount Vantage accepts responsibility for the living expenses of Zekeria Ebrahimi, Ahmad Khan Mahmoodzada, Ali Danish Bakhtyari and Sayed Jafar Masihullah Gharibzada until they reach adulthood, a cost some estimated at up to $500,000.
Author Khaled Hosseini describes the filming (in Kashgar, China) of the Kabul kite tournament scenes: "There weren't actually any kites in the sky. We were just kind of looking up at these strings going up to these cables and hanging from the other side there were water bottles to give the string a sense of tension." To which director Marc Forster adds "Yes, because we had no wind." CG kites were added in post-production.
Screenwriter David Benioff mentions on the DVD commentary that what Uncle Saifo the kite seller says in Dari is completely different from what is shown in the English subtitles. Director Marc Forster adds that the improvisation technique was common among the Afghan actors, many of whom weren't really actors.
In the book the servant boy, Hassan, was a harelip (cleft upper lip), but that was left out of the film because it would have required two hours of makeup every day, it would have been difficult for the boy to act in the makeup, Director Mark Forster didn't want to put the boy through it, and it wasn't essential to the script.
Director Mark Forster mentions in the DVD commentary that his passion to make the film as authentic as possible was responsible for his insistence on filming Afghanistani characters speaking in Dari (with English subtitles). Author Khaled Hosseini says "Iran and Afghanistan share a language - they call it Farsi in Iran and we call it Dari in Afghanistan - it's essentially the same language, but the accent is very different." He mentions that the speaker at the soccer game is speaking in Pashdu, the other main language of Afghanistan.
The scenes ostensibly taking place in Afghanistan were mainly shot in the cities of Kashgar and Tashkurgan in the Xinjiang region of China (officially the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region). The DVD commentary mentions that scenes shot in Kashgar include the kite tournament, the mosque where Amir prays, and Rahim Khan's apartment in Peshawar, Pakistan. Scenes shot in Tashkurgan include the opening scenes of a kite duel and the boys running the kite, the Pomegranate tree, and the Taliban compound where Amir meets Sohrab. Scenes shot in or outside of Beijing include the wedding and the soccer match. The San Francisco bar scene was also shot in China.
Author Khaled Hosseini mentions in the commentary that the name on the door "Dr. Amani" is his homage to his medical school roommate. He mentions in the documentary "Words from the Kite Runner" also on the DVD that he, himself, was a practicing physician for eight and a half years before choosing to concentrate on writing after 'The Kite Runner' book became successful.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
At Amir's graduation, we don't hear his name announced - in the book, Baba and Amir's surname was never revealed, which raised a quandary in this scene of the screenplay. It was resolved by simply ending the scene as the name "June Kitagawa" is announced (at around 54 mins). The DVD commentary goes on to point out that for the prop book in the film, director Marc Forster asked author Khaled Hosseini to choose a last name to show on the dust cover and he choose "Qadiri".