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film review
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Hamid Noorzay and Hadi Delsoz in the film Black Kite.TIFF

  • Written and directed by: Tarique Qayumi
  • Starring: Haji Gul
  • Classification: 14A; 90 minutes


2.5 out of 4 stars

A sometimes touching, sometimes frustrating mix of good instincts and better intentions, Black Kite wants to be the most inspiring film you’ll see all year.

After escaping from Afghanistan to Canada as a young child, director Tarique Qayumi went back to his native country to work in the television industry, eventually building up the finances and nerve to shoot this quiet drama directly under the nose of the Taliban. The story is captivating: Arian (Haji Gul) is about to be sentenced to death by the Taliban thanks to his determined passion to fly kites.

As he awaits his fate, he shares his life story, allowing Qayumi to offer a tight chronicle of Afghanistan’s calamitous recent history. There are strong echoes here of Khaled Hosseini’s blockbuster novel The Kite Runner (not so much Marc Forster’s wan adaptation, fortunately), but they aren’t obstacles to appreciating Qayumi’s passion and skill for sharing the stories of his homeland.

What does prove problematic, though, is the thinly sketched lead character, and the budgetary constraints that too often and too obviously limit the filmmaker’s rich vision. The same limitations apply to the preachy streak Qayumi’s script often acquires, too frequently valuing easy sentimentality over complex characterization.

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