Kabuli Kid



Venice Film Festival

VENICE – Barmak Akram weaves a little yarn of a 6-month-old boy in his "Kabuli Kid" to present a graphic view of a battered and bruised Kabul. In just about every reel, we are reminded how the Soviets first and the Americans later destroyed a proud nation. The Taliban tried killing through their dogmatic faith the spirit of a people known for their infectious laughter and joyous living. The message is writ clear in the film that stands a good chance of a long festival run.

Akram's protagonist is a taxi-driver, Khaled (Hadji Gul), whose unexciting existence makes a sudden somersault one afternoon when he picks a heavily veiled woman passenger and her baby. After she hops off at her destination, Khaled realizes that she had left the child behind. His search for the mother takes him to an orphanage, where he tries parking the child, and finally to the radio station. There a French couple, Mathieu (Valery Schatz) and Marie (Amelie Glenn), help him place an announcement with the promise of a reward for the kid's mother if she takes him back.

Akram's first feature uses the driver to take us on a tour of a city crippled by political violence, a city where 50,000 orphan children, who grow up unschooled, live and work on the streets selling eggs, empty bottles and toilet paper.

The movie's documentary elementary is more appealing than its fictional aspect, where some amateurishness is obvious. But on the whole, this is an engaging look at a social dilemma of orphan children.

Production company: Fidelite Films
Cast: Hadji Gul, Valery Schatz and Amelie Glenn
Director/writer/music: Barmak Akram.
Producers: Olivier Delbosc and Marc Missonnier.
Director of photography: Laurent Fleutot.
Costume: Mohammed Ayoub Omar.
Editors: Herve de Luze/Pierre Haberer.
Sales agent: Wild Bunch
No rating, 91 minutes.