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Afghan Coming-of-Age Film Is Oscar Contender

The Oscars will be presented Sunday night in Hollywood. One of the nominees for Live-action Short Film is Buzkashi Boys, a coming-of-age story set in Afghanistan shows a side of life in Afghanistan seldom seen outside the country.

The film has vivid shots of the ancient Afghan sport called Buzkashi. It's a dangerous game played on horseback with a goat carcass.

In this drama, filmed in Kabul, two Afghan boys dream of becoming famous Buzkashi players.

The 29-minute film is a joint project of Western and Afghan filmmakers and was directed by documentary filmmaker Sam French. He has lived in Afghanistan since 2008.

The two young stars were 12 years old when the film was shot. Jawanmard Paiz is the son of a well-known Afghan actor and has acted before. Fawad Mohammadi is a newcomer whom the director knew from Chicken Street in Kabul.

“There's a bunch of kids that live on the street that try to sell you maps and bubble gum and be your body guard while you're there, street kids. And one of them was this kid Fawad who was unlike any of the other kids," French said. "He had this big huge heart, and he was incredibly nice, with big green eyes.”

The boys play a street urchin and the son of a blacksmith. Their dreams conflict with their harsh reality. French says the boys became friends on the set and that helped make their acting believable.

Sam French oversaw production with Ariel Nasr, an Afghan-Canadian producer. Los Angeles filmmaker Martin Desmond Roe co-produced the film and helped write the script. “So our aim was to write something that was culturally sensitive but still honest,” he said.

The filmmakers hope the project will help revive the Afghan film industry.

For the two young actors, the nomination means a trip to Hollywood, and for Fawad Mohammadi, a chance to meet Sylvester Stallone, his movie hero.


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