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Turtles Can Fly

Americans will invade Iraq and topple Saddam Hussein; the characters in this film want that. Everyone with an opinion on the Iraq War should see this film; it doesn't attack Bush, but shows refugees who lack opinions because they must work to stay alive in a world with little room for them.

In a Kurdish refugee camp on Iraq's Turkish border - "Kurdistan," a homeland known only in Kurds' minds - children and teenaged orphans run their own lives. No government in the area thinks Kurds have a state. A bright wheeler-dealer, Satellite (Ebrahim), organizes work disarming land mines - called "Americans" for their value, not to criticize the U.S. - and re-sell them to nearby dealers. One boy, Hyenkov (Feyssal), "Boy With No Arms," disarms mines with his lips. Saddam Hussein planted the mines.

Satellite likes Agrin (Latif), Hyenkov's sister; a child we think is their brother, Risa, holds onto his armless brother's neck. But the baby is Agrin's; Iraqi soldiers raped her. Satellite, their resourceful leader, calls meetings, assigns work, and rides a bike with long ribbons. He always talks and shouts loudly, too busy to think of his misery.

In a funny scene, every household - all in tents or huts - sends someone to a hill with a ragged TV antenna, and shouts, "To the left! To the right!" The village is desperate for news, but no TV signal comes. Satellite remarkably barters for a satellite dish in town, and returns with it. The elders hate Saddam Hussein, and wait patiently as the boy searches for a CNN signal, going past prohibited sexy music channels.

No one helps the Kurds struggle to define the borders of a homeland. Will the U.S.? The Kurds' aims sometimes line up with other people's: The first Bush administration supported their fight with Hussein, but we opposed them when they fought Turkey. The New York Times Magazine reported how, in 2004, our government arrested Ibrahim Parlak, a peaceful Kurdish restaurant owner for 10 years in Michigan, for Kurdish nationalist activities we once approved.

This movie shows people we might overlook. Satellite has no politics, nor does The Boy With No Arms, or his sister, or her child born of rape; they are trapped. The Boy With No Arms disarms land mines of the kind that blew away his arms; Satellite trades 15 radios and some cash for a satellite dish. We all need to know their stories of survival.
Director(s): Bahman Ghobadi
Writer(s): Bahman Ghobadi
Cast: SoranEveryone who has an opinion on the war in Iraq should see
Release Date: 2004   
Keyword: Iraq War; refugees, landmines
Target Age: 15+   Category: war and peace
Documentary: no
Language: Kurdish, with English subtitles   Reviewer's Name: Micah
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