Entertainment

As cinema returns to Somalia, the upcoming movie Ayaanle rides the wave

Ahmed Farah, Somali-Dutch film producer and director of the film Ayaanle, is seen on the rooftop of a building in Nairobi's Eastleigh district
Ahmed Farah, Somali-Dutch film producer and director of the film Ayaanle, is seen on the rooftop of a building in the Eastleigh district of Nairobi, Kenya on November 9, 2021. REUTERS / Jackson Njehia

November 29, 2021

By Katharine Houreld

NAIROBI (Reuters) – In the new film “Ayaanle,” a Somali actor living in a poor neighborhood in Nairobi dreams of a breakout role to take him to Hollywood, but is disappointed when he only shows him off. Play the role of a pirate or terrorist.

“I only have two lines of dialogue,” the character—whose name is Ayaanle, also the name of the movie—complains bitterly. “” I kill you” and” Allahu Akbar “.”

The new 90-minute film, due out in February, follows on from the success of The Gravedigger’s Wife, by the Finnish-Somali director, and the first to be shown in three decades in the capital Mogadishu. war-torn Somalia. The newly refurbished National Theater screened Ayaanle’s trailer this week.

The story is set in the Eastleigh suburb of Nairobi, home to many Somali families. Ayaanle is played by Somali-American actor Barkhad Abdirahman, who has starred in the Oscar-nominated films “Captain Philips” with Tom Hanks and “Watu Wote” produced in Kenya.

As the story begins, Ayaanle finds that the American accent he has cultivated means he is being charged more for the usual raids from the police in his neighborhood – they think he is living in a foreign country. outside so he must have money.

To get his bribe back, he posed as a member of al Shabaab’s insurgency linked to al Qaeda in Somalia to defraud $500 from a gullible Western journalist.

But the police recognize his televised interview and he becomes entangled in an elite counter-terrorism unit with pranks like their suits.

Somali-Dutch director Ahmed Farah wrote the film based on scams he witnessed while working as a news cameraman for networks like Al Jazeera and Britain’s Channel Four. He said that some Eastleigh residents often pose as pirates for reporters.

“I’ve heard a lot of interesting stories – stories you’ll hear when the camera is off,” said Farah, 43, who shot videos for MTV.

Farah said it took him eight years to write, finance and shoot the film, at one point so stressful that his blood pressure spiked and he passed out.

With funding from Somali businessmen and other sponsors, filming finally began in November 2019 but Farah soon ran out of money. Work on the film continued briefly in 2020 until Kenya was closed due to COVID-19.

When they were finally able to reboot eight months later, Abdirahman broke a rib in an accident, and the other actors looked completely different after months of lip-locking, new haircuts, or weight loss.

But there were also downsides: the Eastleigh community rallied around the film, donating refreshments or homes to use as a set. Police provided cars, unloaded guns and set up security.

They put Farah in the local prison so he could build a replica set – memorably portrayed as a community elder being recommended by a sequined sex worker while trying to bail Ayaanle .

Most of the crew and cast have experienced the kind of police harassment in the film, said Abdirahman, and many are nervous about openly acting like terrorists – especially when there are police around. .

“They said, ‘If those policemen have pictures of us later when this movie is finished, they’ll come to interrogate us and put us in jail’ – the same situation that protagonist Ayaanle experienced. over,” Abdiraman told Reuters.

Farah says that’s why he’s so excited about the blossoming of Somali cinema – and the opportunity to show more than pirates, refugees, warriors and war.

“We can always complain that the world is not telling the real stories of Somalia but us who need to tell those stories,” he said. “We need to tell our stories not only to the world but to ourselves.”

(Reporting by Katharine Houreld; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

https://www.oann.com/as-cinema-returns-to-somalia-upcoming-film-ayaanle-rides-the-wave/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=as-cinema-returns-to-somalia-upcoming-film-ayaanle-rides-the-wave As cinema returns to Somalia, the upcoming movie Ayaanle rides the wave

Caroline Bleakley

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