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Posts Tagged ‘Venice Days’

Liya Kebede Picks “Desert Flower”

Posted by addisethiopia / አዲስ ኢትዮጵያ on September 2, 2009

Having gained wide success in the world of fashion and modeling, Liya Kebede has transitioned successfully into the world of acting. In 2004, Liya Kebede captured Hollywood’s attention and has since appeared in films including The Good Shepherd with Matt Damon and Angelina Jolie, directed by Robert De Niro, and Andrew Niccols’ Lord of War with Nicolas Cage and Bridget Moynahan.

A native of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Liya Kebede has graced the covers of dozens of magazines including Vogue (American, Italian, Japanese & Spanish), V, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar and Time’s Style & Design issue.

Now, with the starring role in the independent German/Austrian/French film, “Desert Flower”, Liya takes on a personal journey of Waris Dirie, who grew up as an African nomad girl to later be discovered for the catwalk.

Desert Flower” is an adaptation of Waris Dirie’s bestselling autobiography. The story recounts Dirie’s rise from childhood in the Somali desert to the catwalks of the international fashion scene.

Mysterious, proud, wonderful:

When the young Somali Waris Dirie (Liya Kebede) is discovered in a London Fast-food restaurant by star photographer Terry Donaldson (Timothy Spall), the international world of fashion celebrates enthusiastically the birth of a new top model. However, behind the glamorous facade a deeply moving destiny is hidden.

DesertFlower

Born in a small Somali village, Waris grows up in the constant fight for the everyday survival. At the age of 13, she flees a forced marriage arranged by her father, she knows she must stay on the run or face certain death. So, she decides to stay on the run and wander around for days in the desert, until she, finally, reaches the Somali capital of Mogadishu. The family of her mother gives her some protection, and eventually finds her a job as a maidservant in the Somali embassy in London – where she is not allowed to leave the house for years. Some years later, when Waris is threatened to be deported to her native country, she flees once more. She submerges in the jungle of London, survives holding sporadic manual jobs and finds a friend and confidant in the lively shopkeeper and hedonist Marilyn (Sally Hawkins). With her help she manages to start into a new life.

However, then, she is discovered at her cleaning job at the McDonald’s by photographer Terry Donaldson (Timothy Spall) … and a fairytale becomes true: The designers run after her, jet-set and press love the nomad girl who has found the way from the desert dust to the most famous catwalks of the world.

Waris Dirie becomes one of the best payed models of the world. In spite of all the luxury and success the young woman remains down-to-earth and always remembers her African roots. Besides, Waris feels permanently insecure in the shadow of her past – the secret of her childhood straining her often deeply. At the height of her career, during an interview with “Marie Claire” she comes to a decision to describe in an open and honest manner her difficult childhood and make later the subject of circumcision a public controversy worldwide. A thousand-year old taboo subject has now been broken.

Waris Dirie never stops talking about the cruel tradition of the female circumcision whose victim she herself became as a small girl. She becomes a pioneer “circumcision breaker” and writes a book which becomes one of the most widely read books of our generation.

The publication of “Desert Flower” triggers a wave of sympathy and protest, nevertheless, Waris decides to dedicate her life to the fight against this ritual.

Based on this autobiography of the same supermodel Waris Dirie director Sherry Horman brings a modern fairy tale on the screen. The amazing story initially arouses great interest. Desert Flower shows a shocking story that evokes sympathy and disbelief. There are some humorous elements, and it’s quite fun to watch Waris struggling to discover a different world.

In the Ethiopian supermodel, Liya Kebede, who plays the lead role, we see a credible actress. She is lovely and full of surprise. Liya is supported by the lively representation of Marilyn by Sally Hawkins, which often takes the hardness from the sad theme.

In a recent interview, Waris Dirie spoke enthusiastically about being portrayed by Liya Kebede: “Liya, my sister, we have a lot of things in common. You’ve become part of me, you have done a great job.”

  • Desert Flower” experiences its world première in the series Venice Days, tomorrow, Thursday, 3rd September.

  • The première in Germany: with director sherry Hormann, author Waris Dirie, principal character Liya Kebede and the producer,

    Monday, 7th September in the “Lichtburg”, in the city of Essen.

I am sure the movie will somehow find its way to the remotest corner of the world and make a difference like the book did. I have been able to witness a very deep emotional unity among women of the world, be it, black, white, yellow, who has become familiar with Waris’ story.

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