The Kite Runner (film)

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The Kite Runner
Kite Runner film.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byMarc Forster
Screenplay byDavid Benioff
Based onThe Kite Runner
by Khaled Hosseini
Produced byWilliam Horberg
Walter F. Parkes
Rebecca Yeldham
E. Bennett Walsh
StarringKhalid Abdalla
Zekeria Ebrahimi
Ahmad Khan Mahmoodzada
Homayoun Ershadi
CinematographyRoberto Schaefer
Edited byMatt Chesse
Music byAlberto Iglesias
Distributed byDreamWorks Pictures
Paramount Classics
Release date
  • December 14, 2007 (2007-12-14)
Running time
128 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$20 million[1]
Box office$73.2 million[2]

The Kite Runner is a 2007 American drama film directed by Marc Forster from a screenplay by David Benioff and based on the 2003 novel of the same name by Khaled Hosseini. It tells the story of Amir, a well-to-do boy from the Wazir Akbar Khan district of Kabul who is tormented by the guilt of abandoning his friend Hassan. The story is set against a backdrop of tumultuous events, from the fall of the monarchy in Afghanistan through the Soviet military intervention, the mass exodus of Afghan refugees to Pakistan and the United States, and the Taliban regime.

Though most of the film is set in Afghanistan, these parts were mostly shot in Kashgar, Xinjiang, China, due to the dangers of filming in Afghanistan at the time.[3] The majority of the film's dialogue is in Persian Dari, with the remainder spoken in English and a few short scenes in Pashto and Urdu. The child actors are native speakers, but several adult actors had to learn Dari. Filming wrapped up on December 21, 2006, and the film was expected to be released on November 2, 2007. However, after concern for the safety of the young actors in the film due to fears of violent reprisals to the sexual nature of some scenes in which they appear, its release date was pushed back six weeks to December 14, 2007.[4] The controversial scenes also resulted in the film being banned from cinemas and distribution in Afghanistan itself.[5]

Made on a budget of $20 million,[1] the film earned $73.2 million worldwide.[2] The film received generally positive reviews from critics and was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2007. The film's score by Alberto Iglesias was nominated for Best Original Score at the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards.


In San Francisco in 2000, Afghan-American writer Amir Qadiri and his wife Soraya watch children flying kites at a bayside park. Arriving home, Amir receives a call from his father's old friend and business associate, Rahim Khan, who lives in Peshawar, Pakistan.

In 1978 in Kabul, 10-year-old Amir is the son of a wealthy philanthropist and iconoclast, known locally by the honorific title Agha Sahib, whom Amir refers to as "Baba", meaning "father". Amir's best friend Hassan is the son of Baba's longtime servant, Ali. Amir participates in kite fighting, and Hassan serves as Amir's spool-holder and "kite runner". Hassan has a preternatural ability to predict where loose kites will land as well as deadly aim with his slingshot, and on Hassan's birthday, Amir gifts Hassan a slingshot made in the United States.

Amir enters the citywide kite-fighting contest, where he breaks his father's record of 14 "kills", and Hassan sprints off to "run" for the last defeated kite. After some time, Amir goes to look for Hassan, and finds him trapped in a dead end by Assef and his gang. Assef demands Amir's kite as a payment for letting Hassan go but Hassan refuses, asserting that the kite rightfully belongs to Amir. Assef then beats and rapes Hassan in retaliation. Amir watches unseen, unable to help Hassan and too afraid to intervene. He is wracked with guilt over the next few weeks and avoids Hassan, who privately teaches himself to read and write. Ali and Baba question Amir on Hassan's strange behavior, but Amir feigns ignorance. Amir asks his father if he has ever considered replacing Ali and Hassan, in response to which Baba angrily rebukes Amir.

Baba then throws a party for Amir's 11th birthday, but Amir, still upset by what happened to Hassan, cannot enjoy it. The next day, Amir plants his new wristwatch, a birthday present from his father, under Hassan's pillow, and tells everyone that Hassan stole it. Hassan is confronted by Baba, and instead of professing innocence, he takes the blame. Although Hassan is quickly forgiven, Ali tells Baba that he and his son can no longer work for him and are leaving immediately, much to Baba's distress.

In June 1979, the Soviet Union militarily intervenes. Baba leaves his house in the care of Rahim and flees to Pakistan with his son and other refugees across the border on an oil truck. Amir is frightened by their circumstances. Baba comforts Amir by having him recite poems.

In Fremont, California in 1988, Baba runs a service station and operates a stall at a weekly flea market. Amir earns a degree at a local community college, and Baba allows Amir to work with him at the station. One day, at the flea market, Baba introduces him to General Taheri, a Pashtun who is a former officer in the Afghan army. Amir meets Taheri's daughter, Soraya, whom he finds attractive. Later, Amir gives Soraya a copy of one of his stories, but the General confiscates it.

Soon after, Baba is diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. Amir asks his father to ask General Taheri’s for Amir to marry Soraya and Taheri gives his consent, but on a chaperoned stroll, Soraya tells Amir that when the Taheris lived in Virginia, she had run away with a Pashtun man and lived with him until her father came to retrieve her. Soon after, the Taheris moved to California to escape the gossip about this. Amir is shocked by Soraya’s revelation, but still pledges his love, and they marry. Baba dies soon afterward.

The story then returns to the phone call in 2000: Rahim persuades Amir to visit him in Pakistan, offering him an opportunity to make amends. In Peshawar, Rahim, who is dying, tells Amir that he had asked Hassan to return, which he did-with his wife and his son Sohrab. Later, Rahim had fled to Pakistan and had left the home to Hassan and his family. Meanwhile, after the civil war, the Taliban had taken power. When the Taliban demanded that Hassan vacate the home, and Hassan refused, the Taliban had murdered him and his wife and Sohrab had been taken to an orphanage. After telling Amir of these events, Rahim urges Amir to return to Kabul to find Sohrab and give him a letter written by Hassan, who had taught himself to read and write. Amir declines until Rahim reveals that Amir and Hassan are biological half-brothers: Amir's father had had an affair with Ali's wife and had fathered Hassan.

Amir travels to a Kabul orphanage to seek Sohrab but learns that he had been taken away by a Taliban official. Amir arranges to get an appointment at the Taliban official's house, where he is surprised to find that the official's assistant is actually Assef, who recognizes Amir immediately. Assef introduces Sohrab as his dance boy and begins to beat Amir as payback for having let Sohrab leave. In the confusion, Sohrab pulls out the same slingshot that Amir had given to Hassan long ago and shoots Assef in the eye. Sohrab and an injured Amir then flee to Peshawar, where they find that Rahim has died, leaving behind a letter for Amir.

Back in San Francisco, Amir introduces Sohrab to Soraya, and the couple welcomes Sohrab into their home. Amir teaches Sohrab how to fly kites and volunteers to act as Sohrab's "runner". As Amir runs off to fetch a defeated kite, he repeats to Sohrab the words Hassan had said to Amir when they were boys: "For you, a thousand times over."


  • Khalid Abdalla as Amir Qadiri, a young novelist who fled to the U.S. as a boy during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan
  • Zekeria Ebrahimi as Young Amir
  • Ahmad Khan Mahmoodzada as Young Hassan, Amir's childhood friend who was the victim of brutal torment. It's later revealed Hassan was Amir's brother
  • Homayoun Ershadi as the Agha Sahib (Baba)
  • Atossa Leoni as Soraya, the daughter of General Taheri and Amir's spouse
  • Shaun Toub as Rahim Khan
  • Saïd Taghmaoui as Farid
  • Abdul Salaam Yusoufzai as Assef, Amir and Hassan's childhood tormenter who became a Taliban official as an adult
  • Elham Ehsas as Young Assef
  • Ali Danish Bakhtyari as Sohrab
  • Maimoona Ghezal as Jamila Taheri
  • Abdul Qadir Farookh as General Taheri
  • Khaled Hosseini (cameo) as Doctor in the park
  • Camilo Cuervo as a Taliban Soldier
  • Nasser Memarzia as Zaman, an orphanage director
  • Mohamad Amin Rahimi as a Taliban official who made speeches in Ghazi Stadium
  • Chris Verrill as Dr. Starobin, a Russian-American doctor
  • Amar Kureishi as Dr. Amani, an Iranian doctor
  • Nabi Tanha as Ali, Agha Sahib's house servant
  • Ehsan Aman (cameo) as a singer at Amir's and Soraya's wedding
  • Mehboob Ali as Amir's taxi driver in Pakistan

The two child actors were aged 11 and 12 at the time of the filming.[6][7]


Due to dangers of filming in Afghanistan, much of the film was recorded instead in the western Chinese city of Kashgar, which is located about 500 miles from Kabul and shares many visual similarities.[3]

Critical reception[edit]

The film received generally positive reviews. As of January 2022, the film holds a 65% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 178 reviews, with an average rating of 6.40/10. The site's critics' consensus states: "Despite some fine performances, The Kite Runner is just shy of rendering the magic of the novel on to the big screen."[8] On Metacritic, the film had an average score of 61 out of 100, based on 34 reviews.[9]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times named it the 5th best film of 2007.[10]


Though the child actors enjoyed making the film, they and their families expressed worries about their situation after the film's release. Regarding one scene, Ahmad Khan Mahmoodzada (young Hassan) said, "I want to continue making films and be an actor but the rape scene upset me because my friends will watch it and I won't be able to go outside any more. They will think I was raped."[6] The scene was depicted in a less harrowing manner than originally planned; it contained no nudity, and the sexual aspect of the attack was suggested only very briefly at the end of the scene (also, a body double was used).[11] There were also fears of intertribal reprisals, as the character Hassan was a Hazara and the boys who bullied and raped him were Pashtun.[12]

The government of Afghanistan at the time, led by President Hamid Karzai, decided to ban the film from theaters and DVD shops, both because of the rape scene and the ethnic tensions. The deputy Information and Culture minister said: "It showed the ethnic groups of Afghanistan in a bad light. We respect freedom of speech, we support freedom of speech, but unfortunately we have difficulties in Afghan society, and if this film is shown in the cinemas, it is humiliating for one of our ethnic groups."[5][13]

For their work on the movie, Zekeria Ebrahimi (young Amir) and Mahmoodzada were initially paid $17,500 (£9,000)[14] each, and Ali Danish $13,700 (£7,000). Arguments were later made that the boys were underpaid.[6] Additionally, Ebrahimi has said, "We want to study in the United States. It's a modern country and more safe than here in Kabul. If I became rich here I would be worried about security. It's dangerous to have money because of the kidnapping."[6] Paramount relocated the two child actors, as well M. Ali Danish Bakhtyari (Sohrab) and another child actor with a minor role as Omar, to the United Arab Emirates.[15] The studio reportedly accepted responsibility for the boys' living expenses until they reached adulthood, a cost some estimated at up to $500,000.[16]

After four months in Dubai, Ebrahimi and his aunt returned to Kabul in March 2008. After receiving threats on his life, Ebrahimi was forced to remain indoors and be home-schooled by an uncle. He has since claimed that he wishes he had never appeared in the movie.[17] Mahmoodzada stayed in Dubai for two years but returned to Kabul because his other family members could not get a visa to join him. Back home, he was continuously targeted by both the Hazara Shia's (for portraying them as a weak community) and by Pashtun Sunni (for portraying them as bad and cruel). The repeated humiliation resulted in Mahmoodzada—with the help of human smugglers—moving to Sweden; as of 2017, he was living in Borlänge.[18]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Result
2008 80th Academy Awards Best Original Score – Alberto Iglesias Nominated
2008 Golden Globe Awards Best Original Score – Motion Picture: Alberto Iglesias Nominated
2008 Golden Globe Awards Best Foreign Language Film USA Nominated
2008 BAFTA Awards Anthony Asquith Award for Film Music – Alberto Iglesias Nominated
2008 BAFTA Awards Best Screenplay – Adapted: David Benioff Nominated
2008 BAFTA Awards Best Film Not in the English Language Nominated
2008 AARP Movies for Grownups Awards Best Supporting Actor – Homayoun Ershadi Nominated
2008 AARP Movies for Grownups Awards Best Movie for Grownups Nominated
2008 Art Directors Guild Contemporary Film Nominated
2008 Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards Best Young Actor – Ahmad Khan Mahmoodzada Won
2008 Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards Best Picture Nominated
2008 Christopher Awards Feature Films Won
2007 Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Awards Best Picture Nominated
2008 Hollywood Post Alliance Outstanding Color Grading Feature Film in a DI Process Nominated
2008 Houston Film Critics Society Awards Best Foreign Language Film Nominated
2007 International Film Music Critics Award (IFMCA) Best Original Score for a Drama Film – Alberto Iglesias Nominated
2009 International Online Film Critics' Poll Best Original Score – Alberto Iglesias Won
2007 National Board of Review Top Ten Films Won
2008 North Texas Film Critics Association Best Foreign Language Film Won
2007 Satellite Awards Best Original Score – Alberto Iglesias Won
2007 Satellite Awards Best Screenplay, Adapted – David Benioff Nominated
2007 St. Louis Film Critics Association Best Film Nominated
2007 St. Louis Film Critics Association Best Foreign Language Film (Afghanistan) Nominated
2007 St. Louis Film Critics Association Best Cinematography – Roberto Schaefer Nominated
2008 Visual Effects Society Awards Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Motion Picture Nominated
2008 World Soundtrack Awards Soundtrack Composer of the Year – Alberto Iglesias Nominated
2008 World Soundtrack Awards Best Original Soundtrack of the Year – Alberto Iglesias Nominated
2008 Young Artist Awards Best Performance in an International Feature Film – Leading Young Performer: Zekeria Ebrahimi Nominated
2008 Young Artist Awards Best Performance in an International Feature Film – Leading Young Performer: Ahmad Khan Mahmoodzada Nominated


  1. ^ a b "The Kite Runner (2007) - Financial Information".
  2. ^ a b "The Kite Runner - Box Office Mojo".
  3. ^ a b French, Howard W. (31 December 2006). "Where to Shoot an Epic About Afghanistan? China, Where Else?". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-02-15.
  4. ^ "'Kite Runner' release delayed to protect young stars". CNN. AP. 5 October 2007. Archived from the original on 2007-11-09. Retrieved 2007-10-05.
  5. ^ a b ""The Kite Runner" Banned in Afghanistan". CBS News.
  6. ^ a b c d "'Kite Runner' Boys Fear Afghan Backlash". Rawa News. January 14, 2007.
  7. ^ The Kite Runner (2007) - IMDb, retrieved 2020-01-05
  8. ^ "The Kite Runner". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved January 19, 2022.
  9. ^ "Kite Runner, The (2007): Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 2007-12-14.
  10. ^ Roger Ebert (2007-12-20). "The year's ten best films and other shenanigans". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on 2007-12-24. Retrieved 2008-01-05.
  11. ^ "Inside 'The Kite Runner' Rape Scene". Defamer. October 5, 2007. Archived from the original on October 11, 2007.
  12. ^ "The Kite Runner: real-life drama that forced four child stars into exile". Daily Telegraph. 18 December 2007.
  13. ^ "Kite Runner banned in Afghanistan". 17 January 2008.
  14. ^ Dean Nelson and Barney Henderson (26 January 2009). "Slumdog child stars miss out on the movie millions". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 2009-01-27.
  15. ^ "Life In The Raw". The Age. Melbourne. January 6, 2008.
  16. ^ "Studio to delay release of Kite Runner to protect Afghan actors". M&C Movies News. October 4, 2007. Archived from the original on July 31, 2007.
  17. ^ Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson (July 2, 2008). "'Kite Runner' Star's Family Feels Exploited By Studio". All Things Considered. National Public Radio.
  18. ^ The Daily Telegraph

External links[edit]

  1. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2021-01-19. Retrieved 2020-06-30.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)