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Cannes Film Festival 2024 anticipates Somali film 'The Village Next to Paradise' by Mo Harawe

Saturday April 13, 2024

The Village Next To Paradise/ Freibeuter Film

London (HOL)  — As the 77th Cannes Film Festival approaches, anticipation is building for the Somali film "The Village Next to Paradise," directed by Mo Harawe. Set to be showcased between May 14 and 25, 2024, the film is poised to draw global attention with its authentic portrayal of Somali life. Filmed in the cities of Eyl and Garowe in Puntland, Somalia, the drama is already being touted as a frontrunner among this year's distinguished festival selections.

Filmed in the cities of Eyl and Garowe in the autonomous region of Puntland, Somalia, the movie has quickly become a frontrunner among the distinguished selections of the festival, celebrated for its poignant storytelling and authentic portrayal of Somali life.

Nuh Muse Berjeeb, a film line producer, shared insights with the BBC Somali Service on the lengthy and meticulous production process. "The project took over a year to come to fruition, with the title, casting, and unique locations collectively playing a pivotal role in capturing the essence that intrigued the Cannes audience," he stated.

Highlighting the growing global interest in films produced in the region, Berjeeb added, "Once, Middle Eastern cinema captured the world's imagination. Now, it's the narratives from Somalia that are drawing global audiences, reflecting the rich stories our country has to offer."

The film's plot centers on Mamargade, a single father struggling to provide for his family amid Somalia's socio-political challenges. His life becomes more complex when his sister, Araweelo, joins him after fleeing a violent domestic situation, adding to the family's dynamic.

The film features a cast of emerging Somali actors, including Axmed Cali Faarax, Canab Axmed Ibraahin, and Cigaal Maxamuud Saleebaan, who bring the script to life with their compelling performances. "The talent displayed by these actors is a testament to the burgeoning film industry in Somalia and its capacity to tell powerful, locally-rooted stories," Berjeeb emphasized.

Ahmed Farah, another producer, discussed the importance of showcasing Somali culture through cinema. "Films like ours not only entertain but also educate and open windows to Somalia's rich heritage and the resilience of its people," Farah said.

Despite the artistic success, financial hurdles remain a significant challenge. The film, the longest produced in Somalia to date with a runtime of one hour and forty minutes, was financed by FreibeuterFilm, an Austrian company. This collaboration underscores the vital role of international partnerships in bringing Somali stories to the global stage.

Mo Harawe, the director, noted the strategic use of local non-professional actors to ensure authenticity in the storytelling. "Our goal is not only to make films but to build a sustainable film infrastructure in Somalia," Harawe remarked.

As "The Village Next to Paradise" continues receiving accolades, including the Alphapanda Market Breakout Award at the Alliance 4 Development in Locarno, it stands as a potential beacon within Somali cinema. 


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