The Boy Who Plays on the Buddhas of Bamiyan

This remarkable 2004 film by English documentarian Phil Grabsky (In Search of Mozart) chronicles a year in the life of an impoverished Afghan family whose home, a cave in the side of a mountain, is surrounded by the ruins of the two giant Buddha sculptures demolished by the Taliban. Without minimizing the harshness of their existence or idealizing their capacity to cope with it, Grabsky challenges us to concentrate on the story’s more inspiring aspects, such as the natural beauty of the setting and the cheerful resilience of his eight-year-old protagonist. I suspect James Agee, who celebrated Depression sharecroppers in Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, would have loved this film. If I have one complaint it’s about the off-putting atmospheric score, by Dimitri Tchamouroff, which manages to sound both indigenous and Hollywoodish at the same time. In Dari with subtitles. 95 min. a Sun 6/17, 3 PM, Tue 6/19, 6 PM, and Thu 6/21, 7:45 PM, Gene Siskel Film Center.

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