Buzkashi Boys (2012)
85th Academy Awards 2013
Nominated for 1 award.
Nominated for Best Live Action Short Film (Sam French, Ariel Nasr).
Watched May 13, 2014.
Perhaps it was because of cultural differences, but I was pretty bored by Buzkashi Boys. It was trying to make a statement about cultural differences, too. Those of my generation are obsessed with the hashtag craze “#firstworldproblems,” in which one states something that is only deemed a problem in first world countries. This film depicts the opposite of first world problems. In fact, it is a story about a blacksmith’s son and a boy who lives on the street and how they both dream of a better life.
It is present day in Afghanistan and Rafi (Fawad Mohammadi) doesn’t want to be a blacksmith. He wants to hang out with his friend Ahmad (Jawanmard Paiz), an orphan who lives on the streets. The blacksmith (Wali Talash) doesn’t want either of these things for his son. He wants to teach him a trade and how to support himself when he is no longer around. Rafi and Ahmad run off and witness a game of Buzkashi–a local sport somewhat like horse polo but involving a dead goat. Ahmad dreams of leaving the streets and becoming a famous and successful Buzkashi player.
The short takes us around Afghanistan, giving a humanity to what us in outside countries likely only see on the news. The boys explore what was once a palace but is now rubble. We see a crowded street full of cars, shops, and people, where Ahmad sells whatever he can in order to get by. Rafi’s home is small and dirty, but he has a lot more than his friend.
What is special about this film is that a team of international filmmakers have come to Afghanistan to teach the locals how to make films. They want to educate them and encourage them. I would say getting a project nominated for an Oscar is pretty good encouragement.
If we view this film as a project in filmmaking, it is certainly a step in the right direction. If we view this film as an insight into the Afghani lifestyle, it can be powerful. However, the story was lacking and listless. Even though it was only a short, I felt that the story telling needed a lot more meat and direction to really be a success. The character development was okay. The filming itself was pretty good, and especially from a trainee director who has never been to school for the subject, it is very impressive. I hope that he continues to pursue filmmaking and will bring his skills back to Afghanistan.