Archive | March, 2011

Movie reviews of Desert Flower, Part 3

31 Mar

Reviews of the movie Desert Flower continue to be published as the movie is being shown in cinemas across the US.

The Examiner writes: “The new movie based on Dirie’s autobiography, “Desert Flower,” doesn’t brush past the gory details. Rather, it forces the viewer to understand the emotional and physical pain she endured.” Read the entire review here.

“a lovely performance by Ethiopian supermodel-actress Liya Kebede as supermodel-activist Waris Dirie works wonders to elevate this uneven, occasionally awkward, but often absorbing film” – Philadelphia Inquirer

The San Francisco Chronicles: “She’s a supermodel with a mind-boggling secret, but it’s not drugs or tacky trysts. Waris Dirie abandons the isolated desert of Somalia, fleeing an arranged marriage at 13, to eventually strut the glittery catwalks of high fashion.”

“‘Desert Flower’ has all the trappings of a good fairy tale, especially those moments of despair so extreme that a happy ending seems almost impossible. But what makes Sherry Hormann’s film astounding is that it’s real. The autobiography-turned-biopic is based on the life of African nomad, supermodel and activist Waris Dirie.” writes the Washington Post.

Vogue interviewed Liya Kebede on the movie and its message: “Model and US Vogue cover girl Liya Kebede has received rave reviews for her role as Somalian model Waris Dirie in her recently released film Desert Flower, but Kebede insists that airing Dirie’s story is what matters. Eighties supermodel Waris Dirie left modelling to focus on campaigning against female genital mutilation – a practice which she was subjected to when she was five years old.”

“The film is colorfully shot by director Sherry Horman, who infuses style and glamour but never forgets the reality of her subject’s origins.” – The North County Times

New York Daily News
quotes Liya Kebede, who said of her role in the movie that “I had met Waris maybe seven years before at an event that Iman had, and I remember being so blown away by her. And later, when I found out they were doing a film adaption of Waris’ autobiography, “Desert Flower,” I read the book and was so surprised, touched and inspired that I knew I had to do this film.”

More reviews on the movie Desert Flower

23 Mar

The New York Observer: “Based on Ms. Dirie’s best-selling 1997 biography, it’s an amazing epic, too big for the screen to contain, and vastly more engaging between the pages. Still, it’s a journey out of primitive darkness unlike anything you’ve seen before, or anything you are likely to see again.”

The Washington Post: “I wanted that roller coaster of emotion,” Hormann said. The payoff has been positive feedback at screenings around the globe, as well as an audience award at the San Sebastian International Film Festival. Meanwhile, the anticipated backlash has been almost nil.

The New York Times: “The film, based on Ms. Dirie’s memoir of the same title, is heartening both for Ms. Dirie’s rise-and-overcome tale and for the reminder that a helping hand from a stranger can still occasionally be found in this unkind world. But, of course, it’s also disheartening because of what was done to Ms. Dirie, a moment revisited in a hard-to-watch flashback. The film makes bluntly clear that this is a trauma that lasts a lifetime.”

The Epoch Times: “Frankly, simply broaching the subject of FGM on film constitutes a valuable contribution to public discourse. It also lends itself to some memorable drama. The scene in which Dirie reveals her condition to Marilyn is particularly notable for its honesty and sensitivity.”

The Associated Press:

US and West African release of Desert Flower: press review

17 Mar

With the upcoming release of the movie Desert Flower in the US and Canada, as well as the recent premieres in Nigeria and Ghana, numerous magazines, newspapers and websites have published reviews of the movie or related interviews and background information on FGM. Here’s an overview of recent publications:

Voice of America interviewed the director of the movie, Sherry Hormann, as well as actress Liya Kebede, who plays Waris Dirie in Desert Flower: “Actress Liya Kebede hopes the film will take Dirie’s message to all the places where FGM is still practiced. “I think the movie is very gentle and very sensitive, at the same time quite honest with things,” Kebede says. “I think it’s a wonderful story to watch, entertaining and fun, while addressing an issue that’s quite present, and especially in Africa.”

Nigerian Newspaper The Nation covered the premiere of the movie in Lagos: “We see the dramatic transformation of this helpless, abused, impoverished nomad into glorious height, and although, the story is presented with filmic reality and entertaining delight, the message is not lost to the viewer”, the article states. “In real life, Waris Dirie was appointed by Kofi Annan as the United Nations Special Ambassador for the Elimination of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting and is now the African Union’s Ambassador of Peace and Security. Waris Dirie’s success story and her fight for the cause of women is brought to Nigeria through this movie to inspire women in all aspects of their rights.”

“It is hard to sit through Desert Flower without the nagging thought about the inhumanity of the female genital mutilation, or FGM for short.
It is also hard not to credit Waris with not only the courage of escaping from the clutches of this bestiality, but also for telling the world her story”, another Nigerian newspaper writes.

Nollywood, a Nigerian movie page has pictures of the premiere in Lagos. “It was gut-wrenching, heart-breaking experience but also so inspiring! Its a must watch for every woman and man!”, the author writes after attending the premiere.

New York Magazine announces the upcoming release of Desert Flower in the US, writing “In Sherry Horman’s latest film, Desert Flower, the 33-year-old Kebede tells the story of Waris Dirie, a Somalian top model from the late eighties to mid nineties who went through female circumcision at age 3 and was sold into marriage at age 13. Despite this film’s heavy subject matter, the top model insists that the film is “a movie about triumph.” She says, “It will encourage everyone to go out and dare to try things; to put oneself out there and confront things.”

More reviews of the movie:

New York Times Magazine: “Required Viewing”

You can read a detailed review of the movie on this blog.

An article on the movie on East Africa Forum.

A review of the movie in the New York Times.

A gynecologist reviews the movie Desert Flower: “A must-see movie on a must-change custom”

15 Mar

Yesterday, Womens Voices for Change ( published two great reviews of the movie Desert Flower in advance of it’s release in the US. Patricia Yarberry Allen, a gynecologist and spokesperson of the organisation strongly recommends the movie. “When we learn about the nature of the secret shame and pain that has affected this young woman, every person in the audience could understand her passion to eliminate the procedure that has so affected her life” she writes after having seen the movie at an advance screening.

“Tradition is no defense for human rights abuse” writes another attendant of the screening, Jaqueline Frank. “It is long overdue for this issue to becoming a rallying cry, to help those most vulnerable.”

And Allen concludes: “This is a film that should be seen with mothers and daughters; a film that should be sent to our representatives in Congress, because female genital mutilation does not only occur in isolated desert spots—it is global”.

Gestern veröffentlichte die Organisation Women’s voices for change auf ihrer Website zwei interessante Kritiken des Films Wüstenblume, der in den nächsten Tagen in den USA in die Kinos kommt. Die Gynäkologin und Sprecherin der Organisation Patricia Yarberry Allen beschreibt den Film mit den folgenden Worten: “Wenn das Publikum den inneren Schmerz und die Scham der Hauptperson miterlebt, versteht jeder Zuschauer, warum sie heute mit so viel Entschlossenheit und Kraft gegen diese Praktik kämpft”.

“Tradition ist keine Entschuldigung für Menschenrechtsverletzungen” schreibt Jaqueline Frank nach dem Screening. “Es ist höchste Zeit dieses Thema in die Öffentlichkeit zu bringen um denjenigen zu helfen, die am verletzlichsten sind.”

“Diesen Film sollten Mütter mit ihren Töchtern sehen, er sollte an unsere Vertreter im Kongress geschickt werden, denn weibliche Genitalverstümmelung gibt es nicht nur in der Abgeschiedenheit der Wüste – es ist ein globales Problem”.

To all our US supporters: bring Desert Flower to your community!

14 Mar

“I know many many supporters from the US are looking forward to the upcoming US release of the movie Desert Flower. The distributor National Geographic has now released a list of cinemas that will show the movie.

Help bring Desert Flower to your city, too!

As you can see, the list is still quite short. Too short! I want to bring this movie and its message to as many people as possible.Therefore, I need your help: Call your local cinema and ask for the movie and tell your friends to do the same. If you live in a small town, maybe you can convince your school, college or community center to organise a screening. Many cinemas shy away from difficult topics and would rather show yet another Hollywood romantic comedy. But this is a movie with a message, and we need to get this message out there. With your support, I know we can do it! Please join me and let me and everyone else here know about your attempts and hopefully your achievements!


Waris Dirie’s statement on International Women’s Day 2011 / Waris Diries Statement zum internationalen Frauentag 2011

8 Mar

“Today is International Women’s Day. One year ago, I made headlines when I said that having ONE day per year dedicated to the countless achievements that women have made and are making every day was absurd. Since then, many women have told me that they feel the same way. Nonetheless, I want to use this date and occasion to share a few of my thoughts on recent developments in the world with all of you.

In the past few months, we all have read and heard about the developments in Tunisia and Egypt, and more recently Libya. Everywhere, people are raising their voices and unfortunately also their arms against suppression and dictatorship. People have lost and continue to lose their lives to fight for freedom and their rights to have a say on the fate of their countries. Many other countries seem to be taking clues and are starting to discuss their own future and the rights and role of the people.

In Egypt and Tunisia, the people have succeeded in overthrowing their dictators and are working on establishing democratic systems. To come this far, it needed the fight of men and women, who all rose against suppression. What we need now is not only steps towards democracy, but also towards more gender equality! Suppression of women is a huge issue in all of the societies under reconstruction at the moment (in Egypt, over 90 percent of women and girls are affected by FGM) and the achievements made so far created an unprecedented change to change society’s perception of the role and rights of women, too.

Let’s make sure that while we watch, support and appreciate the steps taken in Egypt and Tunisia and that we will hopefully see in Libya soon, we do not forget to keep an eye on the situation of women in these societies. Let us not pass by this opportunity to make lasting changes and improve women’s rights in North Africa and all around the world.” – Waris Dirie

“Heute ist internationaler Frauentag. Vor genau einem Jahr habe ich mit meiner Aussage, EIN internationaler Frauentag um all die Errungenschaften der Frauen dieser Welt zu würdigen sei absurd, Schlagzeilen gemacht. Seit dem haben mir viele Frauen gesagt, dass sie genauso fühlen. Trotzdem möchte ich diesen Tag nutzen, um meine Gedanken zu den momentanen Entwicklungen in Nordafrika mit euch zu teilen.

In den vergangenen Monaten haben wir alle von den Ereignissen in Tunesien, Ägypten und nun auch in Libyen gelesen und gehört. Überall lehnen sich die Menschen gegen Unterdrückung und Diktatur auf. Viele Menschen haben ihr Leben in diesem Kampf für mehr Freiheiten und Rechte verloren, und viele verlieren noch immer täglich ihr Leben. Und die Bewegung breitet sich aus, viele Menschen auf der ganzen Welt hinterfragen ihr politisches System und sprechen sich für die Wahrung ihrer Rechte aus.

In Ägypten und Tunesien ist es den Menschen gelungen, sich von ihren Diktatoren zu befreien und arbeitet nun an der Einführung demokratischer Strukturen. Um so weit zu kommen mussten Männer und Frauen Seite an Seite gegen Unterdrückung kämpfen. Was diese Länder jetzt brauchen sind nicht nur Schritte zu mehr Demokratie, sondern auch zu mehr Gleichberechtigung. Unterdrückung von Frauen ist ein großes Problem in diesen Ländern (in Ägypten beispielsweise sind über 90 Prozent der Frauen und Mädchen von FGM betroffen), und die momentanen Umbrüche sind eine einzigartige Chance, etwas für die Frauen in diesen Ländern zu verändern.

Lasst uns gemeinsam dafür kämpfen, dass sich in Tunesien und Ägypten, und hoffentlich bald auch in Libyen, sie Lebenssituation für ALLE Menschen verbessert. Lasst uns diese Chance wahrnehmen, Frauenrechte zu verbessern, in Nordafrika und überall auf der Welt!“ – Waris Dirie