x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Afghan boys to walk the Oscars red carpet

The teenage stars of a nominated Afghan film are set to attend the forthcoming Oscars.

On the set of the Oscar-nominated film Buzkashi Boys are the lead actors Jawanmard Paiz, center, Fawad Mohammadi, right, and the director Sam French. David Gill, Afghan Film Project / AP Photo
On the set of the Oscar-nominated film Buzkashi Boys are the lead actors Jawanmard Paiz, center, Fawad Mohammadi, right, and the director Sam French. David Gill, Afghan Film Project / AP Photo

If you look closely at those walking down the red carpet at the Academy Awards later this month, you may spot two young Afghan boys amid Hollywood's A-listers.

Fawad Mohammadi and Jawanmard Paiz, both 14, have lead roles in Buzkashi Boys, which is nominated in the Best Live Action Short Film category.

The 28-minute film tells the story of two penniless boys - a street urchin and a blacksmith's son - who are best friends and dream of becoming professional players of buzkashi, a rough and dangerous game similar to polo in which horseback riders attempt to get a headless goat carcass into a circular goal at one end of a field.

While Paiz, the youngest son of a well-known Afghan actor, has already been appearing in films since the age of five and has attended the Cannes Film Festival before, for Mohammadi, the Oscars will be his first time out of the country and his first time on a plane.

"It will be a real honour for me and for Afghanistan to meet the world's most famous actors," said Mohammadi, who has spent much of his life selling maps and dictionaries to tourists on the streets of Kabul. He adds that he was hoping to see the cockpit during the flight to the US, as his real-life ambition is to become a pilot.

Mohammedi plays the blacksmith's son in the film. "His life was so much harder than mine," he says. "The blacksmith made him go out on the streets. I came myself. I wanted to make money to feed myself and to feed my family."

After a fund-raising drive that has raised about US$10,000 (Dh36,700) towards the trip, both Mohammadi and Paiz will travel to Los Angeles and will stay with the extended Afghan family of one of the film's producers. - AP