Desert Flower (2009) Poster


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moved to tears & deep compassion
jainay19 April 2012
My mother kept insisting that I watch this movie but I avoided it because of the subject matter. Even in the hospital, the week before she died, she asked, "Did you see DESERT FLOWER yet? You will like it." She died last week on the Eve of Easter and last night I decided to watch it before it deleted from my DVR. I was completely enthralled and every scene drew me in moving me to a deep compassion for these mutilated women. The London fashion model scenes were a pleasant comic respite from the atrocities and it was interesting to see how Waris integrated these two worlds. Although the film has some loose ends and flaws, nothing will make you appreciate your life as a free woman until you see this film. At the very least, you might be inspired to never complain about such trivial matters as the economy, not having a boyfriend or husband or how badly you thought you were treated as a child. At the best, you will be inspired to use the fire in your life to help those who suffer needlessly in the world.
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This is a moving film which should have been more widely distributed
merickson77719 December 2011
This film is an emotionally powerful film with memorable scenes that are extremely moving. It has the same elements that most Oscar winning movies have in that you feel real joy and pain. It's a shame this film didn't make more money than it did. It appears that it was basically set aside and not distributed like it should have been.

The character development of Waris is spot on. The back story in Africa is also effective in getting a glimpse of the complexity of issues and various injustices a young refugee girl like Waris deals with. The scenes in Africa are also beautiful cinematically.

There are a couple technical moments that could have been better that just reflect the budget it had to work with. IE the obvious green screen in front of the United Nations General Assembly and the ads of Waris on the sides of the buildings in Central London.

Somalia has faced unspeakable challenges in the last 25 years. The result of this is the suffering of regular people who have been caught in the crossfire. There are countless stories from Somalia that need to be told on the screen to bring awareness to this part of the world.

Matt Erickson Poet Nation
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true and must-see film
athina9030 March 2010
Warning: Spoilers
One of the best book adaptations,focusing on right points and showing real problems of immigrants and African women,in general feminine problems.

It makes you think you can get through anything if someone like her has done this much after fleeing from her family,Africa and everything she knew...In every step she found trouble and got discouraged but she found with love and friendship she got where she is now..Helping other African women so as not to end up like her two sisters,and so many unlucky Somalian and African girls.Through all the pain every woman gets,she must end up being proud for who she is...

Touching,emotional and encouraging,for everyone can do something to change the world in the end. Must be seen seriously,especially if you're a woman...
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Overcoming Obstacles
gradyharp19 March 2012
DESERT FLOWER is a very powerful film that introduces many viewers to the atrocities of Female Genital Mutilation, defined by the dictionary as 'FGM, also known as female genital cutting and female circumcision, is defined as all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non- medical reasons. FGM is typically carried out on girls from a few days old to puberty. It may take place in a hospital, but is usually performed, without anesthesia, by a traditional circumciser using a knife, razor, or scissors.' Though that is not the main driver of this story it certainly makes the life of Waris Dirie who wrote this autobiography recognized as someone who overcame insurmountable odds to become one the world's top models and a speaker for women's rights.

Liya Kebede stars as Waris Darie and is the perfect choice of an actress to fill this role: she is an International supermodel, actress and philanthropist, born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. In 2003, she was the first woman of color to become the face of Estée Lauder cosmetics.

Waris Dirie (Liya Kebede) was born in Somalia and was subjected to FGM and fled across the desert to freedom form the heinous attitude toward women (Waris as a child is beautifully portrayed by Soraya Omar-Scego). She struggles though dreary jobs, eventually hooks up with Marilyn (Sally Hawkins0 who introduces her to the world of fashion via Terry Donaldson (Timothy Spall), learns how to dress and walk in heels and eventually becomes the great model we know us as today. She has love interests (Anthony Mackie) but her aim is to gain enough credibility and money to go before the WHO and speak against the mutilation that exists in many countries to this day.

Directed by Sherry Horman who adapted Dirie's autobiography for the screen with Smita Bhide, the visuals are spectacular and the manner in which the story is related is full of passion and compassion. The entire cast (including Juliet Stevenson, Meera Syal, and Craig Parkinson) is pitch perfect. But it is Liya Kebede who fills the screen not only with her beauty but also with a powerful performance of the main character. A very fine film with a heavy message.

Grady Harp
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Unimaginably important viewing
KexUK27 November 2012
In life (I'm 68) there are only a few films that really 'cut into your soul and plant themselves'. Most of the ones that do this to me are real-life stories.Gandhi,Lawrence of Arabia, one of the early Titanic films (I was about 9 years old I think). Desert Flower,for all it's minor failings as a film (I stress minor) planted itself firmly in my heart and will not depart. It shames my manhood (in a good way). It demands of me a greater tolerance of others and a resistance to methodologies/traditions that limit the full potential of another human being.. It tells an incredible story of an incredible woman with an incredible spirit. . Unimaginably important viewing.
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Every Parents Need To Know This
elsiclawsonjr19 October 2012
"Desert Flower" is based on the life of Waris Dirie (Liya Kebede) who was born into a Somalian desert tribe, then ran away from an arranged marriage as a young teen and made her way to London, where she became a world-famous supermodel. As a child, she was circumcised, as is the custom in many African countries. An old woman in the desert cut away those parts that could someday allow her to feel sexual pleasure.

When Waris was sold as a young teenager to an old man who already had three wives, she simply left one day, walking hundreds of miles across desert and scrub land to seek her grandmother in Mogadishu. Amazingly, she found her — and was hired by an aunt in London to work as a maid. The film cuts between her experiences as a young girl and what happened in London, where she ran away, lived on the streets and were befriended by a ditz shop girl named Marylin (Sally Hawkins).

It is while sweeping floors and cleaning slop at a McDonalds that she's spotted by fashion photographer Terry Donaldson (Timoty Spell). Donaldson saw something in the bone structure of the cleaning lady that convinced him to give her his card. Waris was all worried trying to be model, but thankfully Marylin knows her fashion and persuades her, several months later, to pop round and see him. She's soon on her way.

"Desert Flower" is an important movie, and a great one for all African women to see. Dirie's life-story is inspiring for me, her experiences as young girl are tragic, and her ability to speak out against a custom that has long been hidden is impressive. The film certainly has an important message. The scenes that will remain in the memory long after the film concludes are those dealing with Waris' circumcision, particularly an excruciating sequence in which I watch her three year old face as the procedure is performed. It's an angry, damning indictment of a barbaric process. Which I wish it will stop.
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A universal crime against humanity
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU21 March 2010
Warning: Spoilers
An emotional trip of a woman from the desert of Somalia to the United Nations. I will not follow that road which is detailed and marked by exploitation, scarification, mutilation, alienation, rejection, and all other words in that line rhyming with immigration. The film is dealing with one day in the life of an Africa woman that changed that very life into an ordeal. It is called excision and it is performed at the age of three. Beside the direct death rate, and even the indirect death rate (later when pregnant and wanting to deliver the baby) those who survived are made psychologically inferior and dependent. They are not able to control their lives and to develop the energies that would transform the whole African continent. A tradition coming from Black Africa that was later integrated by Islam when it arrived, though Islam was careful not to spread the practice in the population that did not have that tradition, particularly the Arabs. It is nothing but the survival of an enslaving sexual practice that has to disappear from this earth as fast as possible. Yet we are far from it. Excision, and I will say like all other sexual mutilation, is a crime against humanity, including in the US where 95 per cent of males are circumcised. They have even invented a word for natural: uncircumcised and uncut, which is the barbaric bigotry of some turned into lexical tyranny.

Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, University Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne, University Paris 8 Saint Denis, University Paris 12 Créteil, CEGID
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drama and fairytale, but not an easy movie
TheDiceAreLoaded10 June 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Desert Flower is a weird movie. It is based on the life story of Waris Dirie, a super-model up there with Naomi Campel and Cate Moss. The movie focuses on the time from just before her discovery until her big success, with constant flashbacks of her childhood in Somalia and her way to London. Liya Kebede plays a wonderful Waris Dirie, very lovely and full of surprise and fear of the daily life we all take for granted, while at the same time showing great bravery and a strong will to fight for a better life. The rest of the cast is medium at best, a positive exception only the character of Terence Donovan, the photographer. The director did not resist the temptation to give Waris a sort of "funny sidekick-friend" as well as the stereotypical I-Jumped-Out-Of-"The Devil Wears Prada"-Movie - manager, to add some slapstick-touch, which was totally unnecessary. The movie does not leave anyone untouched though, it has some heartwarming and touching as well as some very cruel and disturbing passages. It is funny and sweet when Waris is struggling with the British everyday life, making friends, and so on. It is hard to bear when you are faced with drastic pictures of a 3 year old girl being circumcised, with a 19-year old woman suffering still from this cruel and brutal violation, and with the fact that a whole tradition tries to justify this. And that is the main weak point of the movie. The changes from the funny, light and sweet scenes to the brutal and cruel ones come without warning. The editor or director does not give you the time to set your mind to that kind of situation, and after a hefty scene they just switch back to the light comedy-part as if nothing happens. While I understand the intention, for me as a viewer I could not enjoy the funny parts - which were never the less intended to entertain the audience. I recommend this movie if you can handle the topic, but do not look for a entertaining biopic with some depth. It has entertainment, it has depth, but it tries to deliver both but never brings it home all the way in the one or the other topic.
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A Triumpth
chicagopoetry4 April 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Desert Flower is the story of a Somalian girl who is mutilated at the age of three by the custom of female circumcision. She eventually is sold into servitude to a Somalian family living in London, but when a crisis in Somalian erupts, threatening her visa, she flees and becomes a homeless person. Eventually she befriends a dancing student who gives her shelter and encourages her to pursue a modeling career because of her beauty. She succeeds and becomes one of the top models in the country, and eventually uses her fame to speak out against the horrors of female circumcision. The plot sounds like a bollywood musical but this is actually very moving and gut wrenching story. This is a very important film.
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