Turtles Can Fly is the third feature from acclaimed Iranian director Bahman Ghobadi. As the first film shot in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein, the film takes a dark and heart-wrenching look at affect war has, especially on children.
The action occurs in a Kurdish refugee camp somewhere between the Turkish and Iraqi border on the eve of the American invasion of Iraq. There lives 13-year-old “Satellite” (Soran Ebrahim), who has earned his nickname through his ability to install satellite dishes and translate news of the pending invasion to the camp’s elders. He also organizes his fellow orphans into land mine-collection teams so they can earn money.
Satellite develops a crush on the quiet and beautiful Agrin (Avaz Latif), who arrives at the camp with her brother Hyenkov (Hirsh Feyssal). Her brother is only known as “The Boy With No Arms” to the other orphans and he skillfully disarms the land mines using his teeth. There is a child with them, Risa, who we are led to believe is their brother, but we later learn that this child is the cause of Agrin’s obvious pain.
The children are at first excited for the US invasion; no one wishes to see Saddam Hussein captured more than these children. However, the movies events only lead for the children to see the true grievances that war causes. In the last scene of the film, Satellite and his friend are watching the American troops march into Iraq. Satellite is upset from what he has seen and his friend asks him “Didn’t you want to the Americans come?”
This is not a political film. It is just a story about children attempting to survive in an endless war zone and the final product is unforgettable and extraordinarily moving.
Updated October 7, 2010