"Kite Runner" makers hope to bridge world cultures

Tue Dec 18, 2007 4:40pm EST
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By Bob Tourtellotte

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - In a year in which most films dealing with conflicting world cultures have failed to excite moviegoers, the makers of "The Kite Runner" hope to win audiences by bridging the divide of race and ethnicity.

The movie, directed by Marc Forster, debuted in major U.S. cities last weekend to mostly good reviews and solid ticket sales, which is far better than other films covering topics dealing with the Middle East, Central Asia, war and politics.

On the list of box office failures this fall have been "Lions for Lambs," "In the Valley of Elah," and "The Kingdom," but those films addressed dark subjects and despair.

Forster, whose past films include the drama "Finding Neverland," said "Kite Runner" offers something different. It tells of an Afghanistan emigrant to the United States whose spirit is redeemed after a boyhood failure in his home country, and redemption is universal to all cultures.

"I really hope people carry away from the movie that it humanizes that part of the world," Forster said of the film's setting in Afghanistan before and during the Taliban's rule.

"Kite Runner" is based on the best-selling novel of the same name from Khaled Hosseini. The movie became the focus of huge media attention this fall for a controversial scene in which one boy is raped -- an unspeakable crime in Afghanistan and one in which the victim is often ostracized or harmed.

Movie studio Paramount Vantage delayed its release and shielded the boys who starred in the movie from a possible backlash by arranging for them to live for a time in the United Arab Emirates where, Forster said, they are now.


<p>Ahmad Khan Mahmoodzada and Zekiria Ebrahimi in a scene from "The Kite Runner" in an image courtesy of Paramount Vantage. REUTERS/Handout</p>