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Kite Runner rape scene raises controversy

TheKiteRunner.jpgIt seems that there's another film child rape scene controversy on the rise, although this time round it is coming from the family of, and the actor himself, who star in the film The Kite Runner.

Twelve year old Afghan Ahmad Khan Mahmidzada stars in the film and, as per the novel, his character gets raped by a bully. This makes for a pivotal scene in the story of the novel and the film.

However the family says that the scene is going to offend Afghans, and that they wanted the scene removed from the film.

The Kite Runner is adapted from the novel by Khaled Hosseini (Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com) and tells the story of two boys growing up in Afghanistan and the pressures of life and politics.

Ahmad Jaan Mahmidzada is the father of the child actor, and he told Associated Press through CNN that they were told the scene would not be in the film:

“When we argued, they said 'We will cut this part of the film. We will take it out of the script. This part will not be in the film...”

The film's producers were obviously concerned about the comments from the father and have responded to the AP comments with some of their own.

“When we visited with all the actors and their families in Kabul earlier this year, the families addressed their concerns directly with us and said they were fine with the content of the scene, as long as we portrayed it in a sensitive manner...We made this a priority and followed their specific instructions.”

However even Ahmad Khan is speaking out about the scene:

“They didn't give me the script. They didn't give me the story of 'The Kite Runner.' If I knew about the story, I wouldn't have participated as an actor in this film.”

The story says that he and his family, as well as other Afghans on set, argued with the film-makers about the scene and refused to film it, but the Director pressed them and told them that the film would be a mess without the scene.

The family are concerned that the child actor will be harassed in Afghanistan if they find out his character is raped, his father stated:

“The people of Afghanistan do not understand that it's only acting or playing a role in a film. They think it has actually happened...In Afghanistan, rape is not acceptable at all. This is against Afghan dignity. This is against Afghan culture."

Ahmed Kahn, the child actor, goes on to say:

“It's not one or two people that I have to explain to...It's all of Afghanistan. How do I make them understand.”

The story states that they are now concerned about the stereotyping of the character and that it might stir ethnic unrest.

However at the end of the story the father does say that the film company have promised to take care of them should anything happen to them as a result of the film, and he goes on stage further and asks for the company to take the family out of Afghanistan.

I think, for me anyway, that's the clincher here. I can believe that they might not have seen the script in advance, and perhaps they were naive enough not to do any research on the book beforehand – perhaps they really couldn't get hold of a copy through the film-makers or in Afghanistan, it's not that unbelievable.

However to be at this late stage complaining, not only of a single scene, but of the entire character's portrayal, and to the Associated Press, does sound a little strange. With it all being capped off with the request to the film company to be taken out of Afghanistan, it does see a little targeted.

Perhaps I'm cynical, but couldn't a short educational piece be created before the film to tell Afghans about film and what it represents, what acting is and what actors do? Surely you can't tell me the entire population wouldn't accept and understand what acting is?

Let's say I am wrong, and that this stereotypical image we are being shown here of Afghans is true, that they would not understand what a film or acting is all about, and that they would hound the family. Wouldn't they realise this at the time?

Regardless of the single scene and the arguments over that, would they not at some point say we've had enough of this when they realised that they weren't happy with the overall character portrayal?

Of course it might be something that only became apparent when the film reached its final cut, but with all the negative views they themselves portray of Afghanistan, and then the comment at the end about being taken out by the film company, I can't help but feel slightly cynical about this and think it's something other than the film.




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