Anyone wishing to see a thought-provoking film grounded in real-life issues should see “Dessert Flower”, a film that chronicles the life of Somali supermodel turned human rights activist Waris Dirie. Based on her 1998 bestselling autobiographical novel of the same title, the story is told through flashbacks. This film, written and directed by German director Sherry Hormann, features Ethiopian model Liya Kebede in the lead role as Dirie. The narrative begins where Waris does: in the scorching deserts of Somalia with her family who were nomadic shepherds. The opening shot of a brightly bloomed yellow flower is contrasted against the bleak landscape of the East African dessert, this becomes a lasting symbol of Waris, and of her ability to survive and thrive against suppressing odds. At the age of 13 Dirie takes a desperate journey across the Somali desert alone to escape an arranged marriage (as a 4th wife) to a much older man. She would later become one of the first to speak out against female genital mutilation (FGM), a brutal ritual that she endured as a young girl. Flashbacks show us the 13-year-old Waris who fled her homeland, and later the 3-year-old Waris who was taken to a female elder by her mother so that her external genitalia could be painfully cut away and her vagina essentially sown shut so as to preserve her virginity for her future husband. The procedure, which has no legitimate purpose other than to serve male interests, is still practiced in many countries today on what is estimated to be around 6,000 girls worldwide per day (according to statistics stated in the film), many of whom don’t even survive.
Hormann tells Waris Dirie’s story through a more contemporary and up-to-date lens utilizing a few aesthetic embell...
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...s still felt, the perseverance of Waris Dirie and the courage of the women she represents is deeply inspiring and remarkable. Waris now uses her recognition to make the world aware of the mutilation that still occurs today all over the world in the name of religion and tradition.
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Dessert Flower. Dir. Sherry Hormann. Perf. Liya Kebede, Sally Hawkins, Timothy Spall, Juliette Stevenson. National Geographic Entertainment. 2011. DVD.
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Moore. Omar. Desert Rose' a Majestic, Moving Journey of Supermodel Waris Dirie. Rev. of Dessert Flower. Dir Sherry Hormann. Examiner.com. 29 Mar. 2011.