It’s a bird, it’s a plane…Iranian filmmaker brings war costs,

“Turtles Can Fly”

Bac Films

Directed by Bahman Ghobadi

Written by Bahman Ghobadi

Starring: Soran Ebrahim, Avaz Latif, Saddam Hossein Feysal, Hiresh Feysal Rahman, Abdol Rahman Karim and Ajil Zabari

Not Rated/96 Minutes

Opened May 13, 2005

Three-and-a-half out of four stars

All they know is their country is going to be invaded-when is anyone’s guess.

They can barely afford electricity, much less cable TV.

They are the residents of a Kurdish refugee camp on the border between Iraq and Turkey-on the Iraqi side-and the subjects of Iranian filmmaker Bahman Ghobadi’s affecting new film, “Turtles Can Fly.”

The film takes place just weeks before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. Under Saddam Hussein’s oppressive regime, the residents are in the dark regarding the impending war. Needless to say, the refugees-including the camp’s mysterious new orphans (an armless teenage boy, his younger sister and a blind toddler who may or may not be their brother)-are desperate for information.

Enter a 13-year-old refugee boy (Soran Ebrahim) nicknamed Satellite because of his ability to set up satellite dishes, antennas, cable, etc.

Satellite convinces people to gather enough money-and radios for trade-to buy one used satellite dish for the entire camp to use. The decrepit saucer is the camp’s only source of war-related news from American broadcast channels.

But, really, never mind-“Turtles can fly” is not about the plot, just as it’s not actually a film about flying reptiles.

Instead, Ghobadi’s film focuses on what Michael Moore only hinted at in his political manifesto-the lives of its characters.

There is an undeniable element of the supernatural in this film: The armless boy seems to have the ability to see into the future. In that vein, there are scenes of great poetry. The entire camp-children and adults alike-seems to rely on and look up to Satellite. There is an agonizingly moving scene where Satellite walks slowly across a minefield to try and save the blind child from stepping on a mine. The other children, standing there watching, beg Satellite to come back and let them risk their lives instead of his.

It’s important to realize that “Turtles Can Fly” is not a pro- or anti-war film. It is simply a beautiful film about real people-their fears, their hopes, and all the minefields in between.

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