Fawad Mohammadi, the 14-year-old star of a short Afghan film, has been propelled into the Oscar spotlight. The script parallels his own life. NBC's Thanh Truong reports.
KABUL, Afghanistan -- It is a long way from the grimy, poverty-stricken streets of Afghanistan to the red carpets of Hollywood -- but 14-year-old Fawad Mohammadi is on his way.
In a city normally associated with misery, there were tears of joy as Mohammadi learned of the nomination at a small Internet cafe.
"I'm so happy!" he exclaimed.
American director Sam Fench called Mohammadi to share congratulations -- and promised to take him to Los Angeles, where the low-budget film is shortlisted in the best live action short film category.
A 14-year-old Afghan street seller was overcome with emotion when he learned the film Buzkashi Boys, in which he acted, was nominated for an Oscar. Emma Murphy of ITV News reports.
"I want to see a lot of things there -- Hollywood, and I want to see some actors."
The glamour of Hollywood is a world away from Mohammadi's daily existence in Kabul, where he sells gum and tourist maps for $3 to $5 on the capital's dangerous roads in order to support his single mother who is raising six sons and one daughter in abject poverty.
"Buzkashi Boys" tells the story of two boys in Kabul who dream of playing buzkashi, a sport where players on horseback compete to get hold of a headless goat.
It resonates in Afganistan, where many children live in poverty and surrounded by danger but remain hopeful for their future and that of their nation.
Mohammadi, discovered on the streets of Kabul, acted for the first and only time in his life. For his efforts, he was paid $1,500 -- a small fortune by Afghan standards.
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He used the first $100 to buy food and gave the rest to his mother.
He has become a celebrity in Kabul, and a source of joy in a place where sadness is the norm.
"Some people they know me and when they see me they are so happy," he said. "They want their picture taken with me."
There was a celebratory meal with friends at the local KFC on Friday, but within hours of learning of the Academy Award nomination, Mohammadi is back on the city's Chicken Street earning money.
He dreams of being an airline pilot and attends school, but has to keep working to help support his family.
"This movie shows that Afghans have strength and they work a lot," he said. "It's the real culture of Afghanistan...and also the dreams of Afghans."
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