Comments: *Sealed! Widescreen. Kurdish Language with English subtitles.
Bahman Ghobadi, an Iranian director, is one who chooses to make a film about a subject matter that is not quite openly discussed today – in Turtles Can Fly, his impressive second directorial feature, he weaves a youthful tale set along the border between Iraq and Turkey.
The story follows a young boy, Satellite, nicknamed for installing television receivers in his minefield town of makeshift tents and tanks. He is part of a group of refugee children who expectantly await the war. This group of kids was placed in this area by Saddam Hussein and they find ways to work through Satellite’s leadership. In the midst of his tragedy, Satellite occupies himself with other duties – calling meetings, arranging work – essentially becoming the ringleader of the children. Among the children are the Boy With No Arms, and teenage girl Agrin, who accompanies a younger blind boy. The children’s fate, warranted by the end of the story, is a grim look at Kurdish experiences during the Iraq war and a collective of memories that don’t necessarily make any sense.
The village is altogether hungry for any information they can gather from the TV satellites. Satellite is the technological expert on the behalf of his younger generation. He translates what he can from the snippets of CNN that come in small signals to their television sets. To this refugee village, America is viewed as a lifeboat, but in reality, what can Americans do for them?
Turtles Can Fly is less political in comparison to a questioning of our world’s humanity. These children are characters played by non-actors. They aren’t portrayed in the film to demonstrate any specific political side. They are faces to a real part of this world that seem faraway and unexplained. While there is no explanation that could ever fully understand this, there is at least the attempt for us as viewers to contemplate injustice. And the fact that Ghobadi chose to use real people as the characters makes this film even more haunting in its sad melody…