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.”

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