On the Kurdish refugee camp on the Iraqi-Turkish border, the boy Satellite is the leader of the kids. He commands them to clear and collect American undetonated minefields in the fields to sell them in the street market and he installs antennae for the villagers. He goes with the local leader to buy a parabolic antenna to learn the news about the eminent American invasion but nobody speaks English and Satellite that knows a couple of words is assigned to translate the Fox News. When the orphans Agrin and her armless brother Hengov and the blind toddler Riga come from Halabcheh to the camp, Satellite falls in an unrequited love for Egrin. But the girl is traumatized by a cruel raid in her home, when her parents were murdered and she was raped. She wants to leave Riga behind and travel with her brother Hengov to another place, but he does not agree with her intention.Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
I was very impressed with Bahman Ghobadi's film "Turtles Can Fly." With his other two films "A Time for Drunken Horses" and "Marooned in Iraq," he has now proved himself to be an effective realist. Though like most Iranian filmmakers, the ethnic Kurdish Ghobadi may be seen as a director who is too slow for fast food cinema tastes here in America. But, he allows every character to evolve and their stories to be told. The film's two most moving sequences involve one in which the title character Satellite tries to save small female child from American land mines, and another where the main girl in the story walks towards a cliff where she will contemplate suicide. With a series of flashbacks, we quickly understand why she is on the verge of taking such a desperate leap. The film also shows hope upon the outset of the American invasion. The Kurdish citizens are clearly burned out with Saddam Hussein and desperate for a change. But, it is clear from the moments that leaflets are dropped from planes that the American forces will be there for other reasons which have nothing to do with freedom for the Kurdish people, or any Iraqis. The film is not likely to change anyone's political view of the Iraq War here domestically. Conservatives will see the Kurds' plight as a good reason why we have to stay in Iraq. Liberals will see that the promise of an invasion without hostility is an impossible one because of vast cultural differences and in the end, nothing will really change in Iraq at all. I am one who believes films can not change a person's politics, and it seems clear that Ghobadi himself has mixed feelings about the whole affair. It should be noted that Ghobadi's "A Time for Drunken Horses" was the first Kurdish-language film to be shown in my father's country, Turkey. I am not Kurdish myself, but one has to find the fact that Ghobadi broke the barrier very ironic since Turkey is actually the country with the world's largest Kurdish population and because Turkey's best known filmmaker, the late Yilmaz Guney, was of Kurdish descent. Guney is also considered to be the best filmmaker of Kurdish heritage ever. But, just as Nuri Bilge Ceylan ("Uzak/Distance") is challenging Guney's place on the mantle as far as Turkish cinema, Ghobadi might well soon be recognized as the foremost Kurdish filmmaker who ever lived, if he isn't already. However, none of these factors should take away from Guney's merits. He still deserves far international recognition for his work, but since he died in 1984, it seems that his torch has perhaps already passed on to other hands.
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