Somali boys bask in glow of Oscars

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By Grace Dobell

The family of the two young brothers from Somalia who were in the Oscar-nominated film Asad have said the boys had always dreamed of being actors.

While the film missed out on an award in the best short film category, the chance for leading stars Harun Mohamed, 14, and Ali Mohamed, 12, to travel to the US accompanied by their father, Mahdi Hassan Mohamed, was a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Hasaan Mohamed is one of 16 siblings in the family, who came from Somalia in 2004 as refugees and now live in a two- bedroom house in Cape Town.

“Their dream was to win an Oscar, they used to dream of being actors,” Mohamed said.

While only four of the children go to school, the funds from the film helped the two young stars to enrol in a home school system here.

“We cannot afford school shoes and clothing for all of them,” the boys’ mother, Nasima Alli, said.

South African producer on the film, Rafiq Samsodien, said the proceeds from the festival winnings were put into a fund to help the children’s schooling.

“One of the efforts of being involved in this film is that it has changed their lives.

“They couldn’t read, write or speak English and now they’re well on their way,” Samsodien said.

Alli said people in the neighbourhood knew about the film’s international success .

 Samsodien said the contract was standard for this type of film.

“It was a decent amount of money for any actor for the fact that we were doing this short film. It’s a self-funded film, it’s not something you’re going to make a lot of money from.”

Samsodien was with the two brothers at the awards ceremony on Sunday night.

 The brothers are going to continue their schooling, but have hopes for future acting projects.

grace.dobell@inl.co.za - Cape Times

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