Thursday, October 4, 2007

Tensions in Afghanistan cause postponement of movie release

This evening, Thursday, Oct. 4, 2007, NBC Nightly News reported that Paramount has decided to delay release of the film "The Kite Runner" because of concerns over possible reprisals in Afghanistan. The film was to released by "Paramount Vantage" (the trademark that Paramount now uses for its independent films) and was produced with the help of Dreamworks SKG. The director is Marc Forster, and it is based on the well known book by Khaled Hosseini. The book was published in 2004 by Riverside (Amazon link). The screenplay adaptation is by David Benioff.

The NBC news story indicated that the release might be delayed by as much as six weeks. There was no immediate web reference on MSNBC, but it will probably appear shortly. But Reuters has a story "Studio Acts to Shield Child Stars of 'Kite Runner'" by Steve Gorman, here.

The Washington Post had a story in the Style Section, page C1, Oct. 5, 2007, by John Ward Anderson and William Booth, "'Kite Runner': Danger On and Off the Screen", link here.
The story says that Paramount Vantage has pushed the release back to Dec. 14, limited in a few cities until January. The movie will not be shown in Afghanistan, but DVDs will probably show up there. The movie was filmed in China. The story indicates that the danger could increase if the Taliban becomes stronger again because Bush administration policies turn out not to be effective enough.

The story in the film has some violence that would reflect poorly on the perpetrators. But it is fiction, the book is a novel. The story cites Afghanistan's 28% literacy rate, and then reads, quoting Abdul Latif Ahmadi, president of Afghan Film, "This is the mentality of the people in Afghanistan... People don't realize that it's not true. When they watch a film, they accept it -- it's real, why did they do it?" This gets into the "Touching Doctrine" that I discussed on my main blog (check my Profile) on July 27, 2007.

It is extremely disturbing, even to a freelance writer like me, that a major media company has to delay distribution of a film because of fear of reprisals for speech. This, to a western mind, sounds like giving in to bullying.

We have seen other films about serious international issues (two films recently about Darfur, for example).

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