Turtles Can Fly


Directed by: Bahman Ghobadi
Written by:Bahman Ghobadi
Starring: Soran Ebrahim, Avaz Latif, Saddam Hossein Feysal, Hiresh Feysal Rahman, Abdol Rahman Karim
Released: August 18, 2005
Grade: A

Much has been made of the war in Iraq but Turtles Can Fly approaches the subject matter from an unexpected angle.  Set just before the war commences, it’s the story of a group of kids who live in a small own near in the Iraqi-Turkish border.  They are led by Satellite (Ebrahim), a boy with technological expertise.  He his helping set up a satellite dish so that the town elders can tune into CNN or the Fox News Channel (god forbid).   They want news of the pending war and they aren’t getting it on Iraqi television.

We’ve seen the war from our perspective, now here’s the chance to see it from the eyes of children living in Iraq.  Satellite and his posse of children earn a small amount of money by removing land mines from the local farmland.  You wouldn’t think that they’d live in such a hostile country when you look at the affectionate enthusiasm these children have.

Things change for Satellite when an armless boy named Pashow (Feysal) and his sister Agrin (Latif) arrive in town.  Pashow starts making predictions about the war which are become eerily true.  Satellite sees Pashow as a threat to his leadership and stance in the community.  Ironically though, he has developed a crush on Pashow’s sister.  He is discovering new feelings and his priorities are soon changing…

I am told it is the first major film to be filmed in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein.  This is great to see but it doesn’t impact my review in anyway.  Regardless of the circumstances of how it came to be, this a superb film with a big heart.  The children give tender performances which are exemplified by a scene towards the end where Satellite tries to rescue a blind baby from a field full of land mines.   

On his website, director Bahman Ghobadi dedicates his film to “all the innocent children of the world – the casualties of the policies of dictators and fascists.”  It’s apt way of passing on the message behind Turtles Can Fly.