Oscar-nominated local short film ‘a shift for filmmakers in SA’
ASAD, a film shot in Cape Town about Somali refugees living in South Africa, has received an Oscar nomination for best live-action short film.
Rafiq Samsodien, co-producer of the short film, said he was pleased with the award nomination and the international acclaim the film had received so far.
Asad, which tells the story of a boy from a poor Somali village who must decide between piracy and life as a fisherman, was directed and written by US film director and scriptwriter Bryan Buckley. The other co-producer is Mino Jarjoura.
Mr Buckley travelled to Kenya in 2010 while working on a project for the United Nations. He interviewed Somali refugees in that country and was inspired to create a film that raised awareness about their plight.
Mr Samsodien — the co-owner of Little LA Productions, which has produced magazine shows and documentaries for South African broadcasters — said the Oscar nomination was also an achievement for the local film industry, and that working with Mr Buckley had been "a phenomenal experience".
"It’s a great shift for filmmakers in the country and I am testimony to the fact that we can do great things in South Africa in collaboration with other players," he said. "If we create more local content, we can play a more meaningful role internationally.
"I’m a patriot and I want to play a meaningful role in South African film. I hope our institutions see this nomination in a positive light and start banking on us."
Mr Samsodien said the short film had already been well received at a number of international film festivals. It was shown at the Tribeca, Rhode Island International, Annual New Orleans, Los Angeles and One Lens film festivals.
"The film has done well in the US," he said. "It’s travelled to some film festivals and it’s won 13 awards to date. What happens is a film will win an award at a festival, and that festival will make it their best short film nomination for the Oscars," he said.
Mr Samsodien said the film’s story broke away from stereotypes about Somalia and Somali refugees.
"I’m hoping that we can create screening opportunities and ensure this film raises the plight of Somalis in a positive light," he said. "The film breaks away from some stereotypes of Somalia. We also want prosperous futures for the actors, as some of the children are illiterate. The kids are hungry and keen to learn like any others."
The Oscars take place on February 24 at the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles, California.
By Khulekani Magubane