Paramount recently announced it will push back the release of the film version of Khaled Hosseini’s best-selling novel The Kite Runner (Bloomsbury, 2003), directed by Marc Forster, in order to protect its child actors whose performances, particularly in a rape scene, could trigger violence in Kabul. Afghan and American officials, as well as the actors’ families, have expressed concern that the film may exacerbate hostility between ethnic groups—the politically dominant Pashtun and the historically oppressed Hazara.
The scene in question portrays a Hazara boy named Hassan being raped by a Pashtun bully. Ahmad Khan Mahmoodzada, the young actor who plays Hassan, told reporters at the Sunday Times in London that he worried for his life, a sentiment echoed by his father, as the rape scene could potentially offend and humiliate their fellow Hazara.
The studio has rescheduled the film’s release from November 2 to December 14, when the boys’ school term will have ended. Though the film will not appear in theaters in Afghanistan, a DVD version will be available in the country soon after the film’s release in the West.
In an effort to further protect the children, Paramount has begun making arrangements for the boys to be removed from Kabul, and is considering assuming financial responsibility for them until they reach adulthood. Where they will relocate is unknown, though they will not be able to seek asylum in the United States, as Afghans are not eligible for refugee status.