Lakposhtha hâm parvaz mikonand (2004)
This wee Iranian/Iraqi/Kurdish production combines a charming naivety in both narrative and production with some sombre and well-portrayed accounts of refugee and war-time life for the Kurdish people in Northern Iraq in the weeks before the republic south of Canada decided to act as self-proclaimed judge of distant political regimes. Surely, this film will be well-received in that republic, as the Kurds have been long prosecuted and terrorized by both Saddam's and previous Iraqi governments, and be that as it may, because it never is writer/director Bahman Ghobadi's task to set out a complete document of the political situation in neither Iraq nor the conflict (or "conflict") between this country and any other western country. This isn't even a film about religion - not explicitly, and almost not implicitly either. It's simply a film about people's way of dealing with difficult, excluding and unstable conditions. It explores the life in a refugee camp, and it explores the spirit of the Kurd population in it.
At times, the film is particular when it comes to the culture of the people it depicts, but more often than not, this is a universal film about kids, coming-off-age and love - in different forms and ranges. The film thrives on the sincerity and passion with which it portrays these subjects, but also suffers somewhat from its at times banal narrative form and uneven acting. That being said, a few of the (non-professional) actors here are uniquely impressive; the way kid with one leg covers ground, or the passion and realism of the boy without arms. Harrowing is also a tale about a young mother that the film eases us into. But for all its sinister themes and aspects, Turtles Can Fly looks and feels (somewhat surprisingly) more like something related to Lucas or Stand By Me than to a war-time epic. Whether that is a strength, a weakness or neither, I'll leave for you to decide.