From Afghan street kid to film star in Buzkashi Boys

Fri Oct 12, 2012 2:59am EDT
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By Jessica Donati

KABUL (Reuters) - Twelve-year-old Fawad Mohammadi made a living on the streets of downtown Kabul selling maps to passing expats to help support his family.

Along with many impoverished children who chased customers while they shopped for rugs and souvenirs, he worked to support his family because his father had died years before.

But he never imagined this would lead him to well-connected film maker Sam French, who would turn him into a movie star.

Mohammadi's jade-green eyes and charcoal-smeared face have now peered out from cinema screens from Los Angeles to London, starring in a short film, "Buzkashi Boys," that has been nominated for awards around the world.

"I had seen many movies, especially Afghan movies, and when I watched them I dreamed of becoming an actor. Then I met Sam French and that's how I came to act in the film," Mohammadi said at a recent screening of the film in Kabul, his gaze even more piercing in real life than on screen.

The movie is about two children growing up in Kabul who dream of becoming Buzkashi riders, horsemen who compete in the Afghan national sport similar to polo, which uses a dead goat instead of a ball.

One of the boys is a street kid like Mohammadi, the other the son of a blacksmith forced to spend long hours in his father's dark workshop sharpening axe heads.

"What I wanted to show in the film is that even these kids have hopes for the future, have dreams, which in itself is not seen in the West. What you see in the West is a whole bunch of suicide bombers and Taliban, you don't see human beings," said director French.   Continued...