Asad, a short film shot in Paternoster on the Cape west coast and featuring Somali refugees living in South Africa, has received an Oscar nomination in the Best Short Film category at the 85th annual Academy Awards.
This film was shot with mostly a South African crew and actors from the local Somali refugee community in Bellville, Cape Town. The producers opted to shoot the 18-minute film in South Africa due to the political instability in Somalia.
Asad is a coming of age fable of a Somali boy who struggles to survive in his war-torn land and is faced with falling into the pirate life, or rising above to choose the path of an honest fishing man.
Set in a village in Somalia, the film was praised by the Tribeca Film Festival jury in New York as: "A lyrical, moving and beautifully realised portrayal of a world we rarely get to see in cinema. Every shot of the film is well thought out and specific to this unique world - a fishing village in Somalia. Yet Asad’s most astounding achievement is boasting an array of brilliant performances by a cast of Somali refugees",
Asad is the result of a collaboration between US director Bryan Buckley's Hungry Man Films and Cape Town producer Rafiq Samsodien of The Asylum. Buckley, who is best known for directing more than 40 blockbuster Super Bowl commercials, was inspired to make this film after visiting a UN refugee camp in Kenya. "The Somalis have an underlying humour and are not afraid to laugh," he says.
The film also won the Best Narrative Short award at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York, the Audience Award at the Los Angeles Film Festival, and scooped Best Short Film awards at 13 festivals around the world during the past year, including the New Orleans, Austin and Rhode Island film festivals in the US.
The filmmakers hope that Asad and its success will go a long way towards helping the South African Somali community find acceptance in a country which has not always welcomed them with open arms.
"The Academy Award [nomination] will undoubtedly be beneficial for our province's film industry," said Alan Winde, Western Cape MEC for finance, economic development and tourism. "Congratulations to Mr Samsodien and his team, the Western Cape is behind you."
The 2013 Academy Awards are set to take place in Hollywood on 24 February.
Source: Channel 24