The Kite Runner novel is written by a talented Afghan-American author, Khalid Hussaini, in March of 2001 and was published in 2003. It became one of the top ten 2004 international bestseller books by the New York Times. Later, Kite Runner was launched in 48 countries and has been translated from English to different languages such as Chinese, French, German, Persian etc.
In 2005 Hollywood filmmakers became interested in making a movie from this novel. Dreamworks decided to adapt it into a screen play written by David Benioff and it was made into a movie in 2007.
The main shooting location of The Kite Runner was in Kashgar, or Kashi which is a part of Xinjiang province of China. Kashgar was chosen due to similarity of it's landscape to Afghanistan. The movie was filmed in different locations including Kashgar, Tashkurgan of Xinjiang province, Beijing, and California USA.
The casting process of The Kite Runner movie was started in June 2006 by the casting director, Kate Dowd, and her casting assistant and interpreter Mustafa Haidari with the help of Foundation for Culture and Civil Society in Kabul. During the two and half months of casting process, Kate and Mustafa have worked hard to find the two main characters of the movie, Amir and Hassan. They have started their search from the Afghan Film Actor's Association, to open calls of Schools, Orphanages, and training centers around Kabul.
They have covered 10 main famous high schools including; Amani, Istiqlal, Habebia and many other local elementary and high schools. Meanwhile, they have also covered many orphanages such as Tahya-e-Maskan, Shashdarak, Alawudin as well as the non government orphanage of (Asheyana) which trains the street kids and receives it's fund from the foreign donors. In fact, they are the biggest orphanages in Kabul. Their priority was to find the two main heroes Amir and Hassan first and then the rest of the characters. As a result, they have auditioned almost 6,000 kids in order to find the Kite Runner heroes. Despite the hot days of summer in Kabul and searching for the characters school to school and orphanage to orphanage, Kate and Mustafa did a great job finding the new and fresh faces for the Kite Runner movie
Among those two happy and new faces were Zakeria Ebrahimi, 11 years old boy (As Young Amir) from Istiqlal high School, one of the famous high schools in Kabul and a 12 years old Ahmad Khan Mahmoodzadah, (As Young Hassan) from the training center of Afghan Relief Organization in Kabul.
It was a long road to find the cast for the Kite Runner in Kabul, a country which has been devastated by war in the last three decades and that made it difficult to find too many actors to choose from. However, in the last few years, more film companies have been opened and more people are turning into acting and movie industry.
The rest of the characters were auditioned and cast from private film companies, and theater agencies in Kabul. However, a few of the main characters including the older Amir, Rahim Khan, Farid the driver, the Orphanage director and the three bullies had been already cast elsewhere out of Afghanistan.
The final cast for the Kite Runner from Kabul:
Zakeria Ebrahimi as "Young Amir"
Ahmad Khan Mahmoodzadah as "Young Hassan"
Ali Danesh Bakhtyari As "Sohrab son of Hassan"
Massihullah Gharibzadah as "Omer Kite Tournament Master"
Nabi Tanha as "Ali"
Abdul Salam Yusoufzai as "Older Assef"
Abdul Qader Farookh as "General Taheri"
Amin Rahimi as "Stadium Clerk"
Mir Mahmood Shah Hashimi as "Bussiness man in Baba Study"
Mohamad Nabi Attai as "Uncle Saifo Kite Seller"
Mohamad Nadir Sarwari as "Spice Merchant"
Sayed Miran Farhad as "Burly Man in Russian Truck"
Khalil Ahmad Nooryan as "Assef Guard #1"
Hameeda Hamraz as "Rahim Khan's Neighbor"
Ahmad Yasar Zahir Shir Agha as "Birthday Singer"
Maimoona Ghizal as "Jamila Taheri"
and Mustafa Haidari as "Party Worker."
Mustafa Haidari has worked as a Props buyer in Kabul, Interpreter to the Afghan cast in Kabul and China and of course as a casting assistant to Kate Dowd.
If you have a movie project about Afghanistan and need props, info or would like to reach Mustafa Haidari or any of the actors, Please Contact Afghanistan Culture and we will be happy to assist you with your project.