x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Oscars 2013: Young Afghan actor's family proud of nomination

The family of the young Afghan star of Buzkashi Boys expressed more pride than disappointment upon learning that the Oscar-nominated movie hadn't won.

The Afghan actors Jawanmard Paiz, left, and Fawad Mohammadi. Reuters / Adrees Latif
The Afghan actors Jawanmard Paiz, left, and Fawad Mohammadi. Reuters / Adrees Latif

Fawad Mohammadi and Jawanmard Paiz, both 14, donned tuxedos for the ceremony after travelling from Kabul to Los Angeles for a trip down the red carpet.

Buzkashi Boys is a 28-minute movie about two penniless young boys - a street urchin (Jawanmard) and a blacksmith's son (Mohammadi), best friends who dream of becoming professional players of buzkashi, a rough and dangerous game that resembles polo: horsemen try to get a headless goat carcass into a circular goal.

Fawad's brothers got up early to watch the show, which began at 6am Monday in Kabul, on an internet feed provided by the Associated Press. They didn't flinch as the actor Jamie Foxx announced that Curfew was the winner in the live action short film category.

"Although the movie didn't win, I'm very happy that Fawad made it to such a place. I'm very happy for him. At the same time he is my brother and I miss him," said Mohammadi's 19-year-old brother, Ahmad Jawad Mohammadi.

"Fawad is not only my relative … he is a source of pride for Afghanistan," said Mohammad Fahim Nadri, Mohammadi's brother-in-law.

Buzkashi Boys was directed by Sam French, a Philadelphia native who has lived in Afghanistan for five years, and funded in large part with a grant of more than US$200,000 (Dh734,000) from the US Embassy in Kabul as part of an effort to encourage Afghans to see the parts of their country that aren't mired in conflict.

The movie - the first instalment in a project aimed at training local film industry workers - gained international attention when it received an Academy Award nomination.

Fawad was discovered by French while peddling maps to foreigners in the Afghan capital, one of an untold number of Afghan youths hustling in the streets to help earn money for their families. He started selling chewing gum when he was about 7 and soon expanded his trade to maps and dictionaries, learning to speak English during his interactions with foreigners.

French raised nearly $12,000 to get the boys to Hollywood, but Turkish Airlines and the US Embassy in Kabul stepped in to cover travel costs so he is putting the money instead into a college fund for Fawad. * AP

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