Khaled Hosseini's runaway best seller, The Kite Runner (Riverhead Publishing- 2003-06-02 - ISBN: 1573222453) rose to the top of the New York Times Best Seller List and has generated sustained reader interest over several years.
It is an epic tale of fathers and sons, of friendship and betrayal, that takes the reader from the final days of the monarchy in Afghanistan to the control and atrocities of the Taliban regime. It is an unforgettable story of coming of age, self discovery, betrayal and redemption that took millions of readers around the world into a different culture through a dramatic tale.
The main characters are Amir and his good friend Hassan who grow up together until a tragic event causes Amir to turn his back on his friend and leave him to suffer at the hands of a violent street gang. At the time of the event, Amir has just concluded a successful battle with his kite for supremacy of the neighborhood skies during an Afghan festival. Hassan, as always streaks away to retrieve the kites cut during the battle to bring them back for Amir. It is during this "kite running" that Hassan is cornered by the gang and Amir turns away from his friend. The story of the painful aftermath for Amir, Hassan is wonderfully told by Khaled Hosseini in his first novel. The insights into Afghan culture and life are deep and profound. They put a human face on the upheaval and suffering that has befallen the central Asian nation over the past years.
Now, Paramount Vantage and Director Marc Forster, backed by Steven Spielberg's Dreamworks, are bringing The Kite Runner to the silver screen this fall. Scheduled for release November 2, 2007, the movie has already completed shooting and has moved to the post-production phase.
For kite fliers the story has additional appeal in that it focuses on the kite battles that exemplify the kite flying skill typically found in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. The tradition of using darting fighter kites flown on line coated with ground glass is strong in these nations and continues to this day.
Due to the difficulty and danger of conditions in Afghanistan, the production team sought alternative locations for filming. Kashgar, China was selected for its close resemblance to Afghanistan. Here, in Muslim neighborhoods, that are very similar to pre-war Kabul in the 1970's, the movie has been given visual authenticity.
The producers and director have worked hard to provide complete authenticity to the entire production. The streets are full of bearded men in traditional garb and of women wearing burkhas. The cast was selected for both their ability to act and to speak in "Dari", the Persian language spoken in Afghanistan. The entire dialogue is in the language and dialect of Afghanistan. This means that English speaking audiences will be following the story in sub-titles. Director Forster is confident that the story will grip movie audiences even though they will have to expend the effort to read and follow the on-screen action simultaneously.
Khaled Hosseini (right) was present throughout most of the filming and worked directly with Marc Forster left) and the actors to help interpret the story that is so important to him.
Kekiria Ebrihimi, age eleven at the time of the filming, plays the role of Amir. Ahmad Khan Mahmiidzada, age ten, plays the role of Amir's faithful friend, the servant boy, Hassan. The role of Amir's father, Baba, is played by 59 year old Iranian actor Homayoun Ershadi. Kahlid Abdallah, a British actor with Egyptian heritage, plays the role of the adult Amir.
The November 2, 2007 screening date is eagerly awaited by fans of this great novel and by kite fliers who will be thrilled to see Afghan style kite fighting take a central part in the movie.
For kiters who are movie aficionados, this is not the first time that Director Marc Forster has used kites in his movies. In the movie Finding Neverland, Forster directed Johnny Depp, Kate Winslett and some talented young actors in the story of J. M. Barry, the author of Peter Pan. An English arch top kite was prominently featured in a park scene within this movie. (See: Kites in the Movie "Finding Neverland".)