This week’s Staff Pick Premiere is Seyed Payam Hosseini’s “The Kites,” a poignant story from the point of view of a kid, situated on the war-torn border between Iran and Iraq. 

Through what begins as a distant call-and-response, a young boy must figure out a solution when a young girl’s kite ends up on the opposite side of a mine-laden divide. Between them is a barrier in the most literal sense, but cross-border languages present yet another obstacle. With the help of friends and an elder, the boy embarks on a mission to return the kite in one piece.

In many ways, this slice of life is symbolic of a sort of radical imagination: the palpable care for one another, the innovation in problem-solving, the courage to reconcile what is lost. With “The Kites,” Hosseini manages to image a film that feels like such a ray of active hope, despite the nearness of a conflicted past.

We reached out to Seyed to talk about his inspiration for the film, challenges, and casting. Hosseini’s responses are in prose below:

On inspiration:

“We live in a historical geography

Kurdistan is a land that is divided into four parts

We live in the Kurdish part of Iran

Border is not a new story for us

And this is what made it look like love, peace, and friendship

From the children’s point of view

Connect the borders

For me, the tree is a sign of authority, a sign of endurance

The kite for me is a sign of freedom and liberation, flying in free lands

And that helped a lot to build ‘The Kites.’”

On challenges:

“Making a short film is not always difficult

And when a filmmaker wants to make an independent film

Everything gets difficult

Building a believable border was the most important challenge facing the project

The location I have been looking for for years

Fortunately, I found the location in a remote border village, a mountain away from Iraqi Kurdistan

But the love of making a film eases all the problems and difficulties.”

On casting:

“Choosing an actor is very important and complex for me

And I always use amateurs to choose my actors

Sometimes even the people I invite to act have no knowledge of cinema and how to make a film

It was very important for the kites that the child actors could be believable

And accept their geography and story

For this reason, I was mostly looking for rural children to choose from

Until I was able to find these children in the lower part of the city (slum)

I tested them, their IQ convinced me they were my choice

I read scripts with them several times, but only to understand the story of the film

And fortunately, I was very pleased with the final result of the film from all four child actors.”

His advice to aspiring filmmakers:

As a young filmmaker

Apart from academic education which requires filmmaking

Watch movies, read and write specialized books and novels

Especially a collection of short stories

And making low-budget independent short films

It can provide the conditions for us to start making films as a carbald filmmaker

Learn to make independent films

Read, write, and watch.”

On what’s next:

“After ‘The Kites’

I made two short films

Russian vodka short film with a child theme

Non-mahram short film (funded by a thousand women) This film is about violence against women

My next project is the genocide of the Kurds in Iraqi Kurdistan by Saddam Hussein called “Beyond the Hills,” which we are currently pre-producing.”

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