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GIFFONI EXPERIENCE 2015 - 17.26 July

Sections & Films


Category: Edition 2015

Somali Abukar lives a life at the very bottom of the Danish society. His son, Mohammed, has joined the terrorist group Al-Shabaab, perhaps to avoid a life like his father’s. Abukar now fears that Mohammed will be the next suicide bomber to carry out his mission, a fear that seems very reasonable, as two out of the seven Danish-Somali young men, that Mohammed was recruited together with, have already become “martyrs”. Another one young man from this terrorist cell, “The Shadow”, got away just in time. Originally, he joined Al-Shabaab in order to fight against the Ethiopian occupation of Somalia, but the focus of the organization shifted when the Ethiopian troops retreated, and “The Shadow” didn’t support their new mission: the killings of his fellow-countrymen in an attempt to overthrow the government.

Category Official Competition
Section GEx Doc
Tipology Documentary, Feature Film
Duration 58'
Production Year 2014
Nationality Denmark
Directed by Søren Steen Jespersen, Nasib Farah
Screenplay Lars K. Andersen, Soeren Steen Jespersen
Director of photography Henrik Bohn Ipsen
Editor Steen Johannessen
Sound Reda El-Kheloufi
Music Morten Svenstrup
Produced by Helle Faber

Nasib-Farah-regOKNasib Farah
Born 1981, Somalia. He came to Denmark as a child fleeing the civil war in his homeland. He has spent his adult life in Denmark working with young Somalis and doing media projects targeting the Somali community. For making the documentary MY COUSIN THE PIRATE (MIN FÆTTER ER PIRAT, 2010), directed by Christian Sønderby Jepsen, he went back to Somalia for the first time in years. WARRIORS FROM THE NORTH is his first director credit.

Director's Statement
“WARRIORS FROM THE NORTH is an important project for me, as I know several of the foreign fighters personally. By making this film, I will gain insight into what drove them to commit these extreme acts and how we can prevent future attacks.
“I know the suicide bomber from the youth club we both went to, and I have always considered him as the younger brother with whom I lost touch. My own background and my life in general are very similar to that of the foreign fighters. We are Danish with Somali roots. We came to Denmark in the early 90s after the civil war broke out in Somalia. We are the same age. We were young together – we had fun, went out and lived it up. We were friends. Back then they were not even close to being extremists, but like so many other young people with dark skin and foreign-sounding names they felt unwelcomed and somewhat misplaced in Denmark. People would cross the street when they saw them, and they were turned down for jobs, internships and even at nightclubs. I am sure that these experiences confirmed them in their feeling that they did not belong here. Like every human being they had a fundamental need for acceptance and belonging. This is probably one of the main reasons why my former friends were so vulnerable to the manipulation of the al-Shabaab where they felt appreciated for devoting their lives to a higher purpose”.

Søren-Steen-Jespersen regOKSøren Steen Jespersen
Born 1962. He is a 1993 graduate of the Danish School of Media and Journalism. He has years of experience in journalistic documentaries for TV. He has also produced several documentaries, including PUNK ROYAL - A BRAND ON ITS ARSE (2006) by Robin Schmidt and Niels David Rønsholdt, THE INVISIBLE CELL (BLEKINGEGADEBANDEN, 2009) by Anders Riis-Hansen, THE CARBON CROOKS (2013) by Tom Heinemann. WARRIORS FROM THE NORTH is his first documentary as a director.

Director's Statement
“To me one of the most relevant global conflicts, we currently face, is the differences between a wealthy North/West and a poverty-stricken South/East. These conflicts are often cloaked in religion, but their essential driving force is the overwhelming difference in our ability to put food on the table, educate our children and secure a roof over our heads. This is the axis of conflict we seek to explore on a political as well as psychological level. We cannot ignore what goes on elsewhere because we are all connected, so what happens on the yellow sand of Somalia’s bloody moor affects me thousands of kilometres away on a rainy day in Copenhagen. The conflicts between the haves and the have-nots ignore borders, passport controls and EU constructs. In reality we all live side by side. For example, close to 10,000 Somalis live in Denmark, and for better and worse their reality is tied to mine.
“WARRIORS OF THE NORTH, and my collaboration with Nasib Farah, is an opportunity for me to tell an important story about the global challenges we are all facing today. It provides possible answers to why a seemingly pointless suicide attack in Somalia may feel like a valid alternative to being a young Somali stuck in a sleepy suburb in Denmark. With my journalistic skills and background in film, I want to tell this honest, human story about what happens when whole groups of people not only feel unwelcome but are excluded and made to feel like second-class citizens in an affluent society.

“It is easy to dismiss militant fundamentalists and suicide bombers as psychopaths who should either be killed or put away for life. The rhetoric has long been ‘If you’re not with us, you’re against us’. Since 9-11 this simplistic and hostile attitude has reigned in the Western world. WARRIORS FROM THE NORTH is an inside look at the various processes that lead a young man to pull the trigger and take the lives of 24 people, including his own. This is an opportunity for me to explore the human factor of this violent conflict and to show the human consequences of these acts. Maybe this way the axis of global conflict will find a way into Danish homes and into the hearts of Western audiences, for it belongs there too”.

Made in Copenhagen ApS
Ryesgade 106 A, 2. sal, 2100 Copenhagen - Denmark
phone +45 27515112
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world sales
DR International Sales
Emil Holms Kanal 20, DK-0999 Copenhagen C - Denmark
phone +45 35203040
fax +45 35203969
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festival contact
Danish Film Institute
Gothersgade 55, 1123 Copenhagen K - Denmark
phone +45 3374 3400
fax +45 3374 3401
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