TorinoFilmLab - Training, development, Funding


The Village Next to Paradise

Mo Harawe


A family portrait in a village somewhere in the Somali desert. Mamargade, a single father of one son, who makes his living by burying the deceased, is the anchor to lead through the world this film explores. Due to his special professional and family position, he is intertwined with corners of Somali culture and society. With him lives his sister, Araweelo, who after an unsolvable marital dispute sought refuge with him. The core problem of her marriage, her infertility and her position as a woman in the marriage (and also in Somali society) is revealed in the resulting divorce proceedings. In the middle of this is the son of Mamargade, Cigaal whose potential is being ignored by the circumstances we see evolving around him. We will see all of that through the intimate and fragile perspective of the newly assembled family, in which the brother and sister trust each other but unintentionally have to live together. In the end it is also the fate of Somalia itself, that's involved in all the small and big problems of this family.


Somalia is a country mostly known for being a failed state, and maybe for having pirates on the coast. A country that is not only barely mentioned internationally in any political context but is also not represented in cinema. My short films Will my Parents Come and See Me and Life on the Horn assured me that films in Somalia are not just possible but also deeply important - and not only for me. The films were very well received and I came to feel that cinema is a platform to talk about Somalia, its unknown problems and its universal realities.
At its very core this film is about a lot of people in a village whose function is to tell a story about my homeland. In a therapeutic way I might even reflect on my upbringing and also learn something about the inevitable ambiguity that comes with concepts of “homeland”. And I am convinced that my personal experience as well as this unique approach can create a film that addresses not only a particular place, but a place people know barely anything about. After seeing such a film, I hope that people understand Somalia better.

The film follows a Somali family and their daily struggles during a scorching hot summer.
Mo Harawe

Film Director, Scriptwriter, Writer

production notes

produced byFreibeuterfilm
Turmburggasse 2/5/2
1060, Vienna

total production budget
€ 1,900,000.00