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Afghan ''Buzkashi Boys'' bank on Internet campaign for Oscar trip

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The teenage stars of an Oscar-nominated short film from Afghanistan hope to walk the red carpet at the Academy Awards in February thanks to donations that are pouring in to pay for their travel.

A representative for the "Buzkashi Boys" film said on Thursday that an online campaign is two-thirds of its way to the $10,000 needed for 14-year-olds Fawad Mohammadi and Jawanmard Paiz to travel from Kabul to Los Angeles in time for Hollywood's biggest night on February 24.

"Buzkashi Boys" is about two children growing up in Kabul who dream of becoming Buzkashi riders, horsemen who compete in the dangerous Afghan national sport similar to polo, in which riders try to carry a headless goat across a goal-line.

So far, some 120 people have donated money to the travel fund from countries that include the United States, Germany, Afghanistan, Canada and Australia. Extra cash raised will go to a college fund for Mohammadi.

The teens hope to arrive a few days before the annual Academy Awards in which the film "Buzkashi Boys" by U.S. director Sam French is nominated for Best Live Action Short Film.

"I'm sure we'll get there one way or another," the film's publicist Leonard Morpurgo told Reuters.

"They need that money to get them over here," he said, adding that the film did not have the budget for the teens to travel to the Oscars.

Mohammadi, an amateur actor with piercing green eyes, gained international attention following the film's release last year for his personal story as a fatherless youth who grew up selling maps of Kabul to tourists in its Chicken Street market.

One of the boys is a street kid like Mohammadi, the other the son of a blacksmith forced to spend long hours in his father's dark workshop sharpening ax heads.

"Buzkashi Boys," which runs for just 28 minutes, is the first film to be produced by the Afghan Film Project, a non-profit group that aims to train filmmakers in Afghanistan.

(Reporting by Eric Kelsey; Editing by Jill Serjeant and Eric Walsh)

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