New Anglo-African generation at 2019 Dinard Film Festival

By October 5, 2019Press

A Girl from Mogadishu, fights from Dublin

A Girl from Mogadishu was picked for the preview line-up at Dinard this year.

In one special screening, a full house of about 300 people watched Irish director Mary McGuckian’s film that is based on the harrowing experiences and escape from Somalia by Ifrah Ahmed, womens’ rights campaigner.

The film traces Ahmed’s life from the time her grandmother arranged for her uncle, a doctor, to excise her and her female cousins when they were about eight years old.

She is then married off to a man more than 30 years older than her, and when she runs away, her father and brother can’t protect her and she ends up getting raped by militia men. Her uncle arranges for her to get to the USA via Ethiopia. However, the man helping her takes her to Ireland instead where she seeks asylum.

Active and focused

The young woman’s story lends itself to big-screen dramatization with a distinct story from Somalia set in a war zone in the first half, followed by another world entirely: Ireland. McGuckian doesn’t dally far from Ahmed’s own experiences, even if some of the harrowing experiences were “watered down in places,” says the director. McGuckian begins a film with happy girls in an ideal setting being led innocently to their ritual excision, also known as female genital mutiliation.

Getting the right balance was paramount when tackling this subject, a world away from McGuckian’s previous films such as biopic Best (2000) about footballer George Best, and another about designer Eileen Gray, The Price of Desire.

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