Forster’s wanderlust has taken him to strange places, both in terms of geography and genre.
Having transitioned deftly from the realms of psychological thrillers (“Stay”) to hard-boiled domestic drama (“Monster’s Ball”), crowdpleasers (“Finding Neverland”) and postmodern comedies (“Stranger Than Fiction”), the German-born helmer took on his first genuine epic with this year’s “The Kite Runner,” which had him traveling to western China, Beijing and San Francisco.
Adapted from Khaled Hosseini’s 2003 bestseller, the film chronicles the childhood and early adulthood of an Afghani novelist as he journeys to rescue his nephew from the Taliban.
“The studio originally had envisioned to shoot the film in English,” Forster says. “And I just didn’t see two 11-year-olds running around Afghanistan in the 1970s speaking English to one another.”
As many of the actors were native speakers (and largely non-pro), Forster relied on a Byzantine network of translators to coordinate shoots in China’s Xinjiang Province, and he is quick to praise his principal wordsmith.
“She was sick one day,” he recalls, “and I had to work with another translator. It was very hard to work with the actors — they couldn’t get it, and it took me so much longer to get the performances out. I realized how crucial (she was) and how lucky I was with her because she could just translate all the nuances in all the little ways.”