Please tell us more about Desert Flower, and how it deals with the subject of female genital mutilation.
Desert Flower is a great example of how movies can change something . The film follows the story of a Somali woman in exile who works her way up to becoming a top international model who speaks out about female genital mutilation.
After we shot the film, we went back to the location in Djibouti, close to the border with Somalia. When we had filmed it there, we had told the people that we could come back to show them the movie. Female genital mutilation is a topic they don’t talk about, and we had a huge screen blown up in the desert to show the film. We thought that perhaps 50 to 100 people would show up, but eventually there were more than 2,000 nomads and villagers watching the screen.
At the end of the movie – in the last 15 minutes – when you really come to the central topic and watch the scene where the child is mutilated, everyone fell silent. You could have heard a pin drop on the ground.
Then when the movie was over, one man stood up – a nomad – and he said: “thank you, I did not know this is going on.” Then many other men stood up and said the same thing. I was flabbergasted.