Film Review: Turtles Can Fly
Prepare to get your heart broken by this wrenching tragedy that centers around a group of industrious but ill-fated children in the Iraqi village of Kanibo. A willful and precocious boy nicknamed ‘Satellite' runs the show, commanding a troop of ragamuffins at the daily task of retrieving landmines from the nearby fields, which he then sells to arms dealers on the black market. The television antennas in Kanibo no longer receive a signal, but news has spread that the U.S. military is about to invade, causing a mass exodus of refugees from the surrounding villages toward the Turkish border. Using the proceeds of his black-market mine-gathering enterprise, Satellite heads to the nearby town of Arbil to buy a satellite dish for the village elders to stay abreast of the pending invasion.
Among the fleeing refugees passing through Kanibo are three orphans, a boy named Hegov who lost both arms in a mine explosion, his younger sister Agrin, and a toddler named Riga, who has a tendency to wander off if left unsupervised. No sooner have they arrived, when rumors begin to circulate that Hegov has a gift for precognition, and has already made some disturbingly accurate predictions. As the hour of the U.S. military invasion draws near, the unfolding drama among the children of Kanibo intensifies, and culminates in the revelation of Arbil's horrifying secret.
Written and directed by Bahman Ghobadi, Turtles Can Fly was the first film made in Iraq since Saddam Hussein was captured and removed from power, it received awards and nominations at film festivals worldwide, and was Iran's entry for the 2004 Academy Awards. The film stars a cast of absolute beginners, children who were once Iraqi refugees themselves, and who captured the hearts of audiences around the world. With the ongoing conditions in the war-torn countries of Central Asia and the Middle East, this timely and poignant story offers an eye-opening glimpse into the daily lives of one small village, and is not to be missed by anyone who cares about the fate of its victims.