|Where do you shoot an epic film about 1970's Afghanistan? In western China of course! The film adaptation of the wildly popular book by Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner, presented producers with a problem. Where can we recreate a version of 1970's Kabul, since getting into Afghanistan, Iran or Iraq to shoot a movie is - how shall we say - dangerous? Head to Kashgar, China.
[the produer] was initially attracted to Kashgar through the stories and pictures of backpackers, photographers and other adventurers, most of which he found online. “This place is a kind of Lonely Planet’s greatest hits,” he said. “The kind of travelers you see out here are basically people who rough it and Silk Road fanatics.”Another attraction to shooting in Kashgar was their ability to do wide shots with very little set preparation. Often times, film makers have to shoot scenes very tightly because the set prep can be extensive and expensive. In Kashgar, you can go for the wide shot for over a 100 yards, and all you get are dusty streets and donkey carts. Voila! Afghanistan.
Very quickly other charms came into evidence. Kashgar had almost no history of filmmaking, but China’s movie industry had started booming, and the authorities, eager to put the country’s far west on the map quickly, warmed to the idea of making “The Kite Runner” here. That in itself represented a huge turnabout. Not long before, foreigners were barred from traveling to the region, where separatist sentiments have long existed.
So, if you want to experience the charms and atmosphere of Kashgar in more detail like I did - head to the theater this weekend and see "The Kite Runner". I know I will.