A Hole in the Sky (GODKA CIRKA)
A HOLE IN THE SKY is an observational documentary that takes place in Beerato, a wind-swept village in Somaliland, an unrecognized self-declared de facto sovereign state, recognized as an autonomous region of Somalia. The film is a character-driven piece, focusing on three females shepherdesses of different generations; the struggles of their daily lives as they deal with analphabetism, shortage of water, and their attempt to put and end to the ancient practice of Female Genital Cutting.
In the remote village of Beerato 12-year-old Alifa has already experienced tremendous loss in her young life: her mother died when she was born, and so did her best friend Rajo, when both girls underwent Female Genital Cutting, a practice all girls in Beerato go through. At night Alifa attends the village’s girls school. The film follows her as she tries to convince her auntie Sahra (34) with whom she lives, to attend night school. Alifa wants Sahra to learn how to read and write in order to become a female leader of the community and to fulfill her dream of building a maternity hospital, so that women no longer will die when giving birth. The road ahead is arduous for Sahra, as she does not know how to write her name.
The third character is Alifa’s grandmother Faadumo, in her 80s. After Faadumo lost her animals to a draught she had to move to Hargeisa, the distant capital, where she lives in a refugee camp with her other daughter. She now pounds the millet in the market 10 hours a day to make a low and unsteady salary, then rushes back every evening to her small hut in the refugee shanty-town to help look after her grand-children. Faadumo knows she is getting too old for the life she is leading. We will follow her on the journey back to Beerato, where she intends to return, as she believes that people should die where they were born.
In the village, the men select 2 camels, bring them to the tradepost and sell them. With the money they hire a Caterpillar that will come to the village to eradicate the granwaa trees, an invasive species with deep roots that is threatening to cause a new draught. As the wet season approaches, the women meet under the justice tree to question the ancient practice of Female Genital Cutting, to which all girls are subjected to. They will first have to agree amongst themselves to try to put an end to it, before they will relate to the men their decision.
The idea to make this film came during a UNTV (United Nations Television) trip to Somaliland where we met and worked closely with Amina Souleiman who runs an NGO in Hargeisa and whose father, grandfather, and great-grandfather lived and are buried in Beerato. With Amina we exchanged thoughts and ideas about the community and decided to team up to film a documentary. Her involvement in the project has granted us access to an otherwise guarded community, and she remains an irreplaceable logistical and creative force behind the film.
The Somali way of life comes from a nomadic culture, and although the Somali language is one of the oldest and most widely spoken African languages, it was written for the first time in 1972. The fact that the language is strong and pure in its rural identity gives the clans and tribes more power in leadership and decision making and more power to the men and older men in particular. The majority of these men are illiterate but they have strong and accurate knowledge of the oral language and literature. Oral literature, especially poetry, has been used for centuries to record history.
In Beerato, the small village where our film takes place, one has a strong sense of being able to observe and witness a way of life that is timeless yet no longer exists in most parts of the world. The ancient East-African nomadic tribal traditions have mixed and collided with the Muslim Sunni religion. The gender divisions, the power structure, and the separate roles of elders, men, women and children, in the daily rhythms of life, are palpable. In the observational, cinema-direct tradition of Robert Gardner and Frederick Wiseman, we are setting ourselves to live in the actual village and capture with the camera life as it is, in this remote place of the world. We plan on acting a little like a ‘fishermen’: with determination and patience, equipped with camera and microphone, we will let the natural elements and what occurs in Beerato determine the structure of the story. We will react with the camera to the events that unfold, trying to capture them as well as we can. We will make a conscious effort to disappear behind the lens while being completely present, alert and connected to the reality we will be allowed to film. We know that by aiming our gaze on Alifa, Sahra and Faadumo, our 3 main characters, a series of events surroundings their lives, are likely to occur. We also will let new unexpected and unpredictable situations dictate new ‘scenes’ and an ex-novo structure to our film. In the self-contained reality of Beerato, what is ordinary to its inhabitants is staggering and surprising to us. Countless problems and issues will need to be dealt with and resolved by the people of the village, from the lack of water, to the schooling for young girls, to the ancient, now questioned (by its own people) practice of Female Genital Cutting. We will record the evolutions of the lives of our main characters in this unique and macrocosmic reality, trusting that if we are accurate and precise in our observation, we may record something that will be so specific that it will become universal.
Antonio Tibaldi - co-Director
Antonio Tibaldi has written and directed feature films in the US, Canada, Australia and Italy. Credits include ON MY OWN (Alliance Atlantis), LITTLE BOY BLUE (Warner Bros.), CLAUDINE’S RETURN (Miramax). His work has been presented at major international festivals, including Sundance, Berlin, San Sebastian, Amsterdam, Rotterdam. He is also an active documentarian. He has been sent by UNTV (United Nations TV) to put the spotlight on some of the world’s most underreported stories. These assignments have taken him to Somaliland, West Bank, Indonesia, Korea, China, Japan, Gabon, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Guatemala, Honduras, Colombia, Ecuador and Mexico.
Alex Lora - co-Director
Alex Lora has worked internationally as editor, cinematographer, writer and director. Lora’s films have participated in the official selection of Sundance, Berlinale Talent Campus, Cannes Short Film Corner. He has been nominated once for the Student Academy Awards and twice for the Catalan Academy Awards (Goya Award). His work has received more than 70 awards and has been screened in festivals in more than 40 countries. He was born in Barcelona, and studied Filmmaking receiving an MFA in Media Arts production from City College New York, as a Fulbright scholar.
Amina Souleiman - Creative Consultant - Exec Producer
Amina Souleiman was born in Djibouti and grew up in Hargeisa. She moved to the UK to attend University. Her father, grandfathers and great grandfathers were born, lived, and are buried in Beerato. She has founded a number NGOs in the UK and in Somalia. In 2007 she started going back regularly to Beerato to help improve the villagers’ resources, sustain their livelihood without changing their way of life. Souleiman is the writer of six publications of short stories and real life experiences, and of “Chaos Café” a novel about the experiences of child combats in Somalia.
Martine Vidalenc - Producer (France - MarmitaFilms)
Martine Vidalenc spent four years in Paris working alongside Chantal Akerman, Fernando Solanas and Bertrand van Effenterre. Vidalenc then worked as a line producer for companies such as Les Films du Poisson, Cinétévé, le Poisson Volant, Neri Productions and Mécanos Productions. In 2010 Vidalenc moved to Bordeaux, in the Aquitaine Region, where she created Marmitafilms, her own production company, specializing in documentaries of national and international scope. Marmitafilms is supported by the Aquitaine Regional Council as part of a program to sustain audiovisual and cinematographic organizations. The company is a member of the EDN (European Documentary Network).
Alex Kruz - Associate Producer
Alex Kruz was born in New York City but maintains a strong tie to his Native American roots (Quechua). He teaches tracking and tribal combat techniques to military and law enforcement specialists. Through physical and spiritual trials Kruz was recognized as a warrior of the Mescalero Apache Shadow Wolf Clan. Endorsed publicly as an ambassador for his work against human trafficking by the Somaly Mam Foundation as well as several international children's charities for assisting underprivileged children with disabilities and life threatening diseases, Kruz is proud to lend his support and resources to seeing A Hole in the Sky made. His producing credits include FIGHT CHURCH directed by Academy award winning director Daniel Junge.
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