Turtles Can Fly

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Turtles Can Fly
Turtles Can Fly poster.jpg
US theatrical release poster
Directed by Bahman Ghobadi
Produced by Babak Amini
Hamid Ghobadi
Hamid Ghavami
Bahman Ghobadi
Written by Bahman Ghobadi
Starring Soran Ebrahim
Avaz Latif
Music by Hossein Alizadeh
Cinematography Shahriah Assadi
Edited by Mostafa Kherghehpoosh
Hayedeh Safiyari
Mij Film Co.
Bac Film
Distributed by IFC Films (US)
Release date(s)
  • 10 September 2004 (2004-09-10) (Toronto)
  • 18 February 2005 (2005-02-18) (United States)
  • 23 February 2005 (2005-02-23) (France)
Running time 97 minutes[1]
Country Iran, France, Iraq
Language Kurdish
Box office $1,075,553

Turtles Can Fly (Persian: لاک پشت ها هم پرواز می کنند Lakposhthâ ham parvaz mikonand, Kurdish: Kûsî Jî Dikarin Bifirin Turkish: Kaplumbağalar Da Uçar) is a 2004 Kurdish war drama film written, produced, and directed by Bahman Ghobadi, with notable theme music composed by Hossein Alizadeh. It was the first film to be made in Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein.


The film is set in the Kurdish refugee camp on the Iraqi-Turkish border on the eve of the US invasion of Iraq. Thirteen-year-old Satellite (Soran Ebrahim) is known for his installation of dishes and antennae for local villages who are looking for news of Saddam Hussein and for his limited knowledge of English. He is the dynamic, but manipulative leader of the children, organizing the dangerous but necessary sweeping and clearing of the minefields.

The industrious Satellite arranges trade-ins for un-detonated mines. He falls for an orphan named Agrin, a sad-faced girl traveling with her disabled, but smart brother Hengov, who appears to have the gift of clairvoyance, making people think he can predict the future. The siblings care for a blind toddler named Riga, who Agrin gave birth to after she was gang raped by Iraqi Arab soldiers. In Agrin and Hengov's village, the girls had been killed after being raped, while the boys and their families had been killed as well. Hengov's arms had been shot and soldiers attempted to drown both children. Because of these circumstances, Agrin is unable to reciprocate Satellite's feelings for her.

Agrin tries to kill the child on multiple occasions, then she ties him to a rock and throws him to the bottom of the lake. When her brother sees in his dream that Riga is drowning, he hurries out of the tent crying and tries to save him. Meanwhile, Agrin commits suicide.


  • Soran Ebrahim as Satellite
  • Avaz Latif as Agrin
  • Hiresh Feysal Rahman as Hengov
  • Abdol Rahman Karim as Riga
  • Ajil Zibari as Shirkooh


Turtles Can Fly received generally positive reviews, currently holding a 90% "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes[2] and an 85/100 rating on Metacritic, signifying "universal acclaim".[3]

Significantly, the film is silent about what happens to 'Satellite' after the Americans finally land in their refugee camp. Some critics believe that the film reflects the true sentiment of Kurds, many of whom suffered greatly under the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein and strongly supported the US military invasion and occupation of Iraq.


  1. Glass Bear, Best Feature Film and Peace Film Award, Berlin International Film Festival, 2005
  2. Golden Seashell, Best Film, San Sebastián International Film Festival, 2004
  3. Special Jury Award, Chicago International Film Festival, 2004
  4. International Jury and Audience Awards, São Paulo International Film Festival, 2004
  5. La Pieza Award, Best Film, Mexico City International Contemporary Film Festival, 2005
  6. Audience Award, Rotterdam International Film Festival, 2005
  7. Golden Prometheus, Best Film, Tbilisi International Film Festival, 2005
  8. Aurora Award, Tromsø International Film Festival, 2005
  9. Golden Butterfly, Isfahan International Festival of Films for Children, 2004
  10. Gold Dolphin, Festróia - Tróia International Film Festival, 2005
  11. Sundance Selection, 2005
  12. Silver Skeleton Award Harvest Moonlight Festival 2007

In popular culture[edit]

The film had an influence on the 2007-2009 Gundam anime series Mobile Suit Gundam 00. The anime's main protagonist Setsuna F. Seiei is a war orphan of Kurdish origins and his real name is Soran Ibrahim, a reference to the child actor portraying the protagonist of Turtles Can Fly.[4]


  1. ^ "TURTLES CAN FLY (15)". British Board of Film Classification. 29 November 2004. Retrieved 23 June 2013. 
  2. ^ Turtles Can Fly at Rotten Tomatoes Retrieved 23 June 2013
  3. ^ Turtles Can Fly at Metacritic Retrieved 23 June 2013
  4. ^ Manry, Gia (July 5, 2009). "AX09: Gundam 00 Focus Panel". Anime Vice. Whiskey Media. Retrieved 1 August 2012. 

External links[edit]