American films about Afghanistan have had a good run at the Oscars lately. Both 2011’s Hell and Back Again and 2010’s Restrepo earned Best Documentary nominations for their harrowing looks at troops under fire. And this year, another U.S.-directed film on Afghanistan is in the hunt for a nod from the Academy Awards, but it’s fictional, it’s not about war, and it doesn’t feature any Americans. It is, however, the first of its ilk to feature dead livestock in a central role. Buzkashi Boys, one of eleven live-action short films to make the Academy’s short list, is the scripted tale of two boys in Kabul who dream of playing the Afghan national sport of buzkashi, which is kind of like polo, played atop horses, but with a headless, disemboweled goat carcass as the ball.
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