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Hollywood comes to the East Bay to film The Kite Runner



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Phil Bray, Copyright 2007 Dreamworks Pictures

When the big-screen adaptation of The Kite Runner hits theaters December 14, the book’s East Bay fans will notice that local scenery and talent play strong supporting roles. In the book by Khaled Hosseini, the protagonist, Amir, and his father flee the Soviet takeover of their Afghan homeland in 1980, and settle in Fremont. To capture local scenes, including the moving final kite-flying scene, the filmmakers came to the East Bay for two weeks. Diablo got an early peek at the film to identify its best East Bay moments.

1. BART never looked so comforting.

A shot of a BART train leaving the Hayward station serves as a transition to show that the father and son have safely escaped from Afghanistan.

2. The East Bay’s “Little Kabul” thrives.

Scenes of swap meets where Amir and his father work after coming to America were shot in Fremont, Hayward, and Newark, where a majority of Bay Area Afghans reside. Author Hosseini landed in San Jose after leaving Afghanistan in 1976 and spending four years in Paris, but says his family has close friends and family members in Fremont, Hayward, and Union City. “I’ve spent a great deal of time in all those East Bay places mentioned in the book,” he says.

3. Pathos in Piedmont.

A heart-wrenching funeral sequence in the film’s second half was shot at the Mountain View Cemetery in Piedmont.

4. Look fast

for acclaimed California Shakespeare Theater actor L. Peter Callender, who plays a community college dean at a graduation ceremony.

5. Costarring The Fog.

The final kite-flying scene has been relocated from Fremont’s Lake Elizabeth at Central Park to a field at the Berkeley Marina, which offers a sweeping Bay view. “Of course, we arrived and San Francisco’s famous fog took its position, and you couldn’t see anything,” says actor Khalid Abdalla, who plays Amir as an adult. “It was funny how the weather made a difference because you would expect this blue-sky ending to the story. But this story really ends on a question—so the gray sky was kind of perfect.”

Khaled Hosseini will appear at the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek on January 18 to benefit the Trust in Education Foundation. Hosseini will be interviewed by Contra Costa Times book club diva Lynn Carey. $50 for admission, $100 including pre-event cocktail party and book signing.

For tickets, call (925) 943-7469 or go to www.leshersartscenter.org .

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