Bombing won’t stop ‘Horse’ shoot

Makhmalbaf film is 85% completed

Samira Makhmalbaf said she’s determined to finish “The Two-Legged Horse,” despite the March 27 bombing that brought lensing to a halt.

At a press conference here Friday, Iranian helmer Makhmalbaf was joined by her father, co-scribe and fellow helmer, Mohsen, to present seven minutes of the film, which is 85% completed.

Footage shown included the moments leading up to the explosion, in which six cast members and a number of extras were injured and the title horse was killed on the Afghan location.

“If the horse hadn’t taken all the pieces of shrapnel, we would have suffered far higher human casualties,” Makhmalbaf told Variety.

Mohsen and Samira’s 18-year-old sister, Hana, were on set on the day of the attack, on which the bomber posed as an extra.

The attack was reputedly a direct attempt on the entire Makhmalbaf family.

The family have had several run-ins with the Iranian authorities, particularly patriarch Mohsen. He is effectively blacklisted in the country from getting official permission to shoot there.

Conspiracy theories have abounded since the attack. Initial suspicions that Al Qaeda or the resurgent Taliban were behind the incident were dismissed after U.S. forces arrested the man only hours following the attack. It is believed the captured man was Iranian.

The bombing was only the latest in a series against the family. Mohsen survived two assassination attempts while lensing “Kandahar” in Iran near the Afghan border. Hana Makhmalbaf narrowly evaded two kidnap attempts during the Kabul shoot of Samira’s “At Five in the Afternoon” in 2002.

That pic earned Samira her second Jury Prize at Cannes. She had previously picked up the same nod for her debut feature “The Apple” in 1998.

While Makhmalbaf refused to rule out possibility of returning to Afghanistan to complete lensing, other possibilities include shooting in neighboring Tajikistan.

“I hope they go to Tajikistan because I think Afghanistan is very risky,” said Vincent Maraval of Gallic film company Wild Bunch, which is co-producing with the Makhmalbaf Film House. “But I know that Samira and Mohsen are not afraid of taking risks. This isn’t something we’re discussing. It’s something she will decide.”

“I really don’t know who was behind the attack but you have to ask who is it that doesn’t want us to make film. Who were the people who offered money to the Rome Film Festival not to show my father’s film?” Samira asked referring to an incident last year when the fest went ahead with the screening anyway. “Who are we damaging? We are what we think and cinema can change what we think. I will never leave it.”

The Makhmalbafs have filmed a number of features in Afghanistan, dating back to Mohsen’s 2001 “Kandahar,” which President Bush reportedly screened at the White House following the Sept. 11 attacks.

“Of course, I will finish shooting the movie but I don’t know where or when,” Samira Makhmalbaf told Variety. “What happened doesn’t mean I won’t go back to Afghanistan, even if it might be even more dangerous for me to go back.”

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    Inside the Spider-Man Split: Finger-Pointing and Executive Endgames

    Spider-Man’s neighborhood has been decidedly unfriendly this week. A private and contentious battle over the onscreen future of the beloved Marvel superhero has spilled out into the public square over the past few days. After making nice for two wildly successful films, Sony Pictures, which holds the licensing rights to the Marvel character, will go [...]

  • Variety Announces 10 Actors to Watch

    Variety Announces 10 Actors to Watch for 2019

    Variety has announced its 10 Actors to Watch for 2019, an honor the publication has bestowed since 1998. Past honorees include many future Oscar winners and nominees, such as Mahershala Ali, Timothée Chalamet, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Brie Larson, Lupita Nyong’o and Melissa Leo. This year’s honorees will be feted in the Oct. 27 issue of [...]

  • August Maturo

    Film News Roundup: August Maturo to Star in Horror Movie 'Slapface'

    In today’s film news roundup, August Maturo gets a starring role and “Death of Me” and “Fatale” find homes. CASTING “Girl Meets World” star August Maturo has been cast as the lead character in the upcoming indie horror feature, “Slapface.” Maturo will play a boy who deals with the loss of his mother by creating [...]

  • Dan Trachtenberg

    Tom Holland's 'Uncharted' Movie Loses Director

    Dan Trachtenberg has exited the director’s chair for Sony’s “Uncharted” movie starring Tom Holland, with the studio taking meetings with top filmmakers and production starting early next year. The studio confirmed Trachtenberg’s departure Thursday. It also said Sony-based PlayStation Productions — headed by Asad Qizilbash and Carter Swan — had come on to produce alongside [...]

  • Participant Taps Anikah McLaren, Robert Kessel

    Participant Taps Anikah McLaren, Robert Kessel to Head Film Department

    Participant Media has named industry veterans Anikah McLaren and Robert Kessel as co-heads of the company’s film department with the titles of executive vice president. Both executives will report together to Participant CEO David Linde, who made the announcement Thursday. McLaren joins Participant having most recently served as a production executive for Fox Searchlight Pictures. [...]

  • 'The Son' Review: Bosnian Family Drama

    Sarajevo Film Review: 'The Son'

    It is a mixed blessing to be born in the aftermath of a war. On the one hand, you never have to experience the terror and suffering your parents did; on the other, you grow up with your own personal crises forever made to feel smaller by comparison. That, at least, is the frustration driving [...]

  • Constance Wu and Jennifer Lopez star

    Box Office: Jennifer Lopez 'Hustlers' Heading for $25 Million Launch

    STX Entertainment’s “Hustlers,” a comedic thriller about strip-club employees seeking revenge, is expected to earn $25 million when it opens on Sept. 13, according to early tracking. The movie — starring Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu, Lili Reinhart, Keke Palmer, Cardi B and Lizzo — will debut alongside Warner Bros.’ “The Goldfinch.” The drama, based on [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content