Young Somali actors in race to Oscars

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By Neo Maditla

 

THE LOCAL producer of the Oscar-nominated short film Asad is in a race against time to get passports for the film’s two young Somali-born actors so that they can accompany him to Hollywood for the ceremony.

Paternoster was transformed into a Somali seaside village for the film.

The story follows the life of a young boy named Asad and the challenges he faces growing up in Somalia.

The young actors in the film, brothers Harun, 14, and Ali, 12, Mohamed, were discovered in Bellville where they live with their father Mahdi Hassan Mohamed.

Asad, nominated for best short film, has taken that gong at 13 festivals around the world.

Rafiq Samsodien, the film’s Cape Town-based producer, said yesterday he was trying to take the boys and their father with him to the Oscars ceremony, which is on February 24.

He said he had met a few hurdles in trying to do this.

First he had to help the family extend their refugee status for the next four years. Once that was dealt with, he helped them with their passport applications.

We got help from the provincial Department of Home Affairs and we stressed the urgency of the applications. But I have been going to the Home Affairs offices every single day since we applied and they said the hold-up is in the national office in Pretoria,” Samsodien said.

These kids are deserving of the opportunity to be on the red carpet. Should the film win, this will be a very important moment not only for this country but also for the continent. This will be our opportunity to make right the injuries that they have been suffering through xenophobia.”

He explained that the family, which had 14 other members, moved from Somalia to Cape Town in 2004.

They arrived through Mozambique and settled in Kimberley for a while before moving to Bellville.

Samsodien said that following Asad Ali and Harun had worked on another film, and some of the other cast members had also secured other film work.

 

Samsodien said if they get the passports in time, they would leave for the US on February 20.

Home Affairs spokesperson Lunga Ngqengelele said yesterday they were looking at the documents and would comment at a later stage.

neo.maditla@inl.co.za

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