The film, shot on the west coast of Cape Town and featuring Somali refugees living in the South African city, is the result of a collaboration between American director Bryan Buckley's Hungry Man Films and Cape Town producer Rafiq Samsodien of The Asylum.
The story of Asad
takes us into the lives of ordinary people in a seaside village in Somalia, providing the audience with a glimpse into the daily struggles of ordinary Somalis living in a dysfunctional and failed state. Asad is a young boy faced with choices in a land where survival is a daily challenge.
Buckley was inspired to make this film after visiting a UN refugee camp in Kenya. "The Somalis have an underlying humour and are not afraid to laugh," he says. While the film clearly shows the often brutal nature of life for ordinary Somalis, a gentle sense of humour runs as an underlying thread throughout the story, creating a film which has as its essence a sense of hope, rather than despair.
Due to the political instability in Somalia, Buckley decided to shoot the film in South Africa, which has a vibrant film industry and many diverse locations.
Language barriers between cast and crew were overcome as the west coast town of Paternoster became transformed to resemble a Somali fishing village. In the words of Somali actress Laila Jamal, the cast "were crying, remembering their country," and in the process delivering what judges at the Tribeca Film Festival described as "an array of brilliant performances."
An Oscar for their adopted homeland would go a long way towards helping the South African Somali community find acceptance in a country that has not always welcomed them with open arms.