Turtles Can Fly
|Turtles Can Fly|
US theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Bahman Ghobadi|
|Written by||Bahman Ghobadi|
|Music by||Hossein Alizadeh|
Mij Film Co.
|Distributed by||IFC Films (US)|
Turtles Can Fly (Kurmanji Kurdish: Kûsî Jî Dikarin Bifirin; Sorani Kurdish: کیسەڵەکانیش دەفڕن; Persian: لاکپشتها هم پرواز میکنند, Lākpošthā Ham Parvāz Mikonand) is a 2004 Kurdish war drama film written, produced, and directed by Bahman Ghobadi, with notable 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. Many of these children are injured one way or the other, yet still maintain a boisterous prattle whenever possible, devoted to their work in spite of the vagaries of their life.
The industrious Satellite arranges trade-ins for undetonated mines. He falls for an orphan named Agrin, assisting her whenever possible in order to win her over. She is a perpetual dour-faced girl who is part bitter, part lost in thought, unable to escape the demons of the past. Traveling with her is her disabled, but very caring brother Hengov, who appears to have the gift of clairvoyance, though he seems to have a bad reputation for it. The siblings stay with a blind toddler named Riga. It is revealed that Agrin gave birth to Riga after she was gang raped by soldiers, while Hengov's arms had been shot as the soldiers attempted to drown both children. Agrin is unable to accept Riga as anything besides a taint, a continuous reminder of her brutal past.
Agrin tries to abandon the child on multiple occasions, until finally she ties him to a rock and throws him to the bottom of the lake, afterwards committing suicide herself by jumping from a cliff. When her brother sees a vision of his loved ones drowning, he hurries out of the tent to save them, but he is too late. Hengov eventually finds his nephew's body at the bottom of the lake but can't cut it loose from the rock due to his disability. Hengov grieves on the cliff from where Agrin jumped to her death. Meanwhile, a disabled Satellite loses any charm he had about the American intervention and looks away when the American soldiers finally pass by him.
- Soran Ebrahim as Satellite
- Avaz Latif as Agrin
- Hiresh Feysal Rahman as Hengov
- Abdol Rahman Karim as Riga
- Ajil Zibari as Shirkooh
Significantly, the film is silent about what happens to 'Satellite' after the Americans finally land in their refugee camp. Some critics[who?] 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.
- Peace Film Award, Berlin International Film Festival, 2005
- Golden Seashell, Best Film, San Sebastián International Film Festival, 2004
- Special Jury Prize, Chicago International Film Festival, 2004
- International Jury and Audience Awards, São Paulo International Film Festival, 2004
- La Pieza Award, Best Film, Mexico City International Contemporary Film Festival, 2005
- Audience Award, Rotterdam International Film Festival, 2005
- Golden Prometheus, Best Film, Tbilisi International Film Festival, 2005
- Aurora Award, Tromsø International Film Festival, 2005
- Golden Butterfly, Isfahan International Festival of Films for Children, 2004
- Gold Dolphin, Festróia - Tróia International Film Festival, 2005
- Sundance Selection, 2005
- Silver Skeleton Award Harvest Moonlight Festival 2007
In popular culture
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.
The conversation between Satellite and the blind boy (Riga) when he is stuck on a landmine is sampled by Jay Electronica in his mixtape Act I: Eternal Sunshine (The Pledge).
- "TURTLES CAN FLY (15)". British Board of Film Classification. 29 November 2004. Retrieved 23 June 2013.
- Turtles Can Fly at Rotten Tomatoes Retrieved 23 June 2013
- Turtles Can Fly at Metacritic Retrieved 23 June 2013
- Manry, Gia (5 July 2009). "AX09: Gundam 00 Focus Panel". Anime Vice. Whiskey Media. Archived from the original on 23 December 2014. Retrieved 1 August 2012.
- Electronica, Jay. "Act I: Eternal Sunshine (The Pledge)".