Afghanistan bans 'Kite Runner'

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KABUL, Afghanistan -- Afghanistan has banned the import and exhibition of "The Kite Runner," a film about the troubled friendship of two Afghan boys, on the grounds that it could incite violence.

Paramount Vantage, the studio behind "Kite," which is based on the 2003 best-selling novel by U.S.-based Afghan author Khaled Hosseini, last year had to get its three young stars out of their homeland before the movie debut to protect them from a possible backlash.

Vantage released the film last month after delays because of the extraordinary precautions taken to address concerns about the film's depiction of one boy's rape and other scenes of conflict between members of Pashtun and Hazara tribes.

Protests erupted last year after pirate copies of another film, "The Kabul Express," which was seen as anti-Hazara, made their way into the multiethnic country that is struggling to emerge from decades of invasion and civil war.

The Afghan government, whose power does not extend much beyond the main cities, then banned the film, sending prices of pirated copies soaring.

"On the basis of the instruction of the Information and Culture Ministry, the 'Kite Runner' film's depiction and import has been banned," Latif Ahmadi, the head of state-run Afghan Film told Reuters late Monday.

"(The film has been banned) because some of its scenes are questionable and unacceptable for some people and would cause sensitiveness and would cause trouble for the government and people," he added.

"Kite" explores Afghan society over three decades, from before the Soviet invasion through the rise of the Taliban, focusing on the friendship between Amir, the son of a wealthy Pashtun, and Hassan, the Hazara son of Amir's father's servant.

In one scene, Hassan is raped in an alley by a Pashtun bully. A third character, Sohrab, is later forced to perform an erotic dance by a corrupt Taliban official.

Ahmad Jaan Mahmoodzada, father of Ahmad Khan Mahmoodzada, who plays Hassan, has said in media interviews that he was not informed about the rape scene until just before it was shot.

The producers dispute this, saying he was told about the scene well in advance and consented. The rape scene is considered inflammatory and anti-Islamic in Afghan society.
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