I got the idea from a documentary made by an Afghan journalist, Abdullah Quraichi, who had infiltrated the “Batcha baz” (Players of Boys) networks. I have to explain what these “games” are about: very young boys are kidnapped or bought to dance, disguised as women, in organized ceremonies by and for men who then rape the young boys at the end of the performances. I found this practice to be absolutely barbaric and from another era. Those images stuck with me for days afterwards. I was shocked and saddened at first, then outraged. I had no other way of getting people to talk about this than to make a film.
I could have also spoken about female slavery. In this case, my goal was to address the condition of these children in my native country of Afghanistan, and more specifically, in these ultra-religious societies, the ramifications between the world of women and the world of men which give birth to sexual frustration and hence the abuses. I address the practice in Afghanistan, but Nabil Ayouch also refers to it in his very beautiful film Much Loved which takes place in Morocco.
The dance is an integral part of this practice. Young men dance for the gathering. They are made to drink and smoke and then they are abused. I wanted this to be part of the film because it has a very strong cinematographic dimension.
Yes, in fact it was only to make it as realistic as possible. Bells are used a lot in the dances of central Asia. Look no further than Indian cinema…
In the end, it is a common form of manipulation. The master plays on the feelings of the young boy. For the boy, his captor is his only family. It’s a bit like the Stockholm Syndrome. The victim, often isolated, ends up with an affection for his captor.
For me, Saman, the oldest of the boys, ends up becoming aware of his condition. His decision at the end of the film is not endured but chosen. It’s his way of both freeing himself and saving the young Bijane.
This rivalry is almost childish. For me, they are two children. It’s like when in a family one child suffers the arrival of a little brother or sister who will garner all of the attention. Jealousy may arise… however, in the end, they will learn to know and love each other.
It concerns a network more than members of a single village. Not everyone participates in this kind of ceremony. So it’s those who come who know about it.
Yes, I believe so. I am fascinated by the complexity of human beings. To stay in the context of the film, it often happens that the Batchas, “the boys”, in turn become the masters once adult. But the exploitation of the weak is a trademark of mankind. Many people are shocked by what happens in certain countries like Afghanistan, but barbaric traditions also exist at home. They exist of course in other areas, but they remain just as frightening and unbearable – for me, bullfighting comes to mind. I don’t know how we can gather and applaud the torturing of an animal under the guise of entertainment, of art… it’s something from the dark ages! There are others such as the force-feeding of geese, the grinding up of live baby chicks, all the tortures committed by the dairy industry, and I’ll stop there because there are so many abuses in that area! I think we are as terrifying as we appear, each of us a little tormentor on our own level, and sometimes through simple ignorance.
Not only the short film! There are lots of tools… the cinema, photography, philosophy, books.
This film exists thanks to the production company Les films du Bal and was co-produced by the CNC and Arte. For me, there is nothing better than to have a production company. This allows you to concentrate completely on the artistic aspects of the film and not the financial ones as the search for funding is the job of the producer. Also, it gives us support during the writing and above all surrounds us with professionals who help us and advise us and who are there in service of the film just as much as the director.