Written and directed by Bahman Ghobadi
Screening at FACT 6th - 9th March
Two weeks before the beginning of the of the Iraq-American war in a small
Kurdish village on the edge of the Iraq/Turkey border we see a young girl
perched on the edge of a cliff. So begins the first feature film to emerge
out of Iraq in the wake of the toppling of Saddam. An Iran-Iraq co-production
it focuses on the lives led by the children of Iraq under Hussein’s
regime in a country so scarred by conflict.
The gang of children in the village are led by a boy nicknamed ‘Satellite’
due to his way with communications equipment - getting TV signals in a
area on the verge of war when channels are jammed by Saddam makes him
a useful if unpopular member of the village. Satellite also leads the
children in the dangerous-but-profitable business of disarming and selling
the mines which litter the landscape and whose terrible results can be
seen on many of the children acting in the film.
He lives a happy Artful Dodger-like existence that changes forever when
a quiet boy, who has lost his arms, his sister and a small child enter
the village. The boy Hengov makes predictions of the forthcoming war that
make the news obsolete, but each prediction is followed by more terrible
tragedy in the lives of these damaged children.
Shot in the barren but expansive Iraq landscape the film shows a small
community dealing with life in a country on the verge of war. Life always
goes on children as with missing limbs run about, toddlers play by the
razor wire while Satellite pursues profit and his new love.
The performances from the children are excellent, supplying both the
humour - which gives some necessary relief - and the more harrowing roles
with dignity. It is also well put together despite being obviously made
on quite a tight budget
However, Turtles Can Fly is not just a document of a deprived country
on the verge of war but a complex and at times very dark film in it’s
own right, looking at the psychology of children pushed to the edge. As
they either try to maintain innocence or deal head-on with the grim realities
of there existence, ultimately this is a film about survival in a harsh