Turtles Can Fly isn?t a new release.? The film won the Peace Award at the Berlin Film Festival in 2005.? But four years later, its concerns are still tragically relevant and its images, still haunting.
Turtles Can Fly was the first film to be made in Iraq after the fall of Sadam Hussain.?The film is set in a Kurdish refugee camp somewhere on the border between Turkey and Iraq and the action takes place just before the US invasion in 2003.?
This no man?s land is a strange space where the adults are largely absent and children fend for themselves.?
The film follows the life of an energetic boy called Satellite who is the de facto leader here.? He organises the children into groups, finds them work, collecting landmines, translates the English CNN news bulletins and gets everyone organised for the arrival of the Americans.?
Satellite falls in love with an enigmatic, mostly silent girl who arrives at the camp with her armless brother and a blind toddler, whom we assume is her younger brother. But through the course of the film, we figure out his identity and why she dislikes him so much.
Director Bahaman Gobadi doesn?t make any overt pro or anti America statements here.? Using non-professional actors, he simply recreates the abject misery of these lives.? There are images in Turtles Can Fly that will haunt you long after the film is over: an armless boy disarming a landmine by removing the pin with his teeth, the blind toddler standing in a mine field, the girl trying to abandon the toddler because she doesn?t want to look after him anymore.?
Turtles Can Fly isn?t easy viewing.? The subject is relentlessly grim and Gobadi doesn?t give us a tight narrative to work with.? The film is slow and at times, even incoherent but if you have the patience, you will be rewarded.? Turtles Can Fly is a cut above.?