Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Hersch visits the Uni

Do you recognize the guy in this photo? From the movie Turtles Can Fly, it is Bahman Ghobadi's character 'Hangow', an armless boy from Halabja who has the ability to predict the future. He travels to a camp outside of Erbil with his sister who has a blind child, the product of a sex crime perpetrated by soldiers of Saddam. Along with the other children there, he earns his living by removing mines from local fields. The photo above is of him engaged in this occupation.

This year, our class (see picture below)watched this movie as a subject for class discussion, interpretation and analysis. When I told another teacher about our upcoming seminar, she mentioned that she knew Hersch, the boy who played 'Hangow'. She had met him near her home in Ankawa. He approached her and told her he had seen her in the bazaar a few days ago. Of course she immediately replied that she had also seen him, but in a movie.
Anyway, we invited Hersch to speak to the class. He came and it was interesting to hear his stories... He was spotted by Ghobadi who was apparently looking for an armless boy who could swim; hence he was quickly recruited for the role (lacking in large bodies of water, swimming is a rare talent in Kurdistan). According to Hersch, Ghobadi was a demanding director and not easy to work for, but he also stated he would rather work hard than break Ghobadi's heart.

Although it was nice to hear firsthand how the film was made and the actor's ideas about his own role in the movie, I was left with a lot to think about. I had been told that Hersch burned his hands in an electrical fire - a condition that should have been treatable, but because of poor medical attention, infection spread and he lost both arms. At that time in his life, it seems he lead a pretty difficult life in the streets in Hawler.

Now after participating in the movie, he no longer has to live his former life, but I wonder how things are for him now that he has had a glimpse of other realities and possibilities. He worked with a famous director as an actor. He received futher medical treatment in the US. But what about life from now...

Certainly I wish him all the best and hope that he will achieve his aim of working in other movies in the future. Inshahallah.

1 comment:

Anna said...

Thank you for letting me know what happen to this boy. I saw Turtles Can Fly and I was wondering what happen to him. I'm so glad to hear that his life is a little better. He is such a good actor.