FREE SPEECH ZONE | War in Somalia becomes killing ground for Somali youth from Minnesota: review, “BROKEN DREAMS” a documentary by Fathia M. Absie.

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Review by N P Heille of public showing of “Broken Dreams”, South High, Mpls MN, 7pm, 2-12-10.

Fatima Wade has given us a great documentary that captures the Twin Cities Somali diaspora as they come to terms with Somali’s war, whose violence has touched American Somali youth. Somali, in their own words, describe how they have strived to be part of America’s culture, as they recount the confusion and grief, as they learned how local young Somali men returned to Somali to fight.  The story they tell is recounted against the backdrop of their always-present Muslim beliefs. 

The documentary’s producer, when she introduced herself, said “I am proud to be able to say I am a Somali American” has given us a documentary where she is an ambassador for her fellow Somali immigrants.  Immigrants from violence, who in America have been visited with the violence they tried to escape.  In the documentary, as they speak, they describe how they are an ethnic minority, whose culture is one of nomadic tribal families of Muslim beliefs.  The production goes on to tell of the intensity, the palpable pain, suffered by the mothers of the young men who returned to Somali to fight.  The mothers, and family members, tell of how they lost their families’ sons.  Youth who were enticed to retuned to Somalia, to fight with Al Shabab, only to be killed.  One who died as a terrorist bomber. 

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Somali leaders: religious, business, and higher education, describe what they have seen happen.  Of how they have seen the power of some to use their Muslim beliefs to recruit others to kill in the name of that belief.  When the producer was asked if she experienced intimidation from others as she produced her documentary, Absie responded “No; rather there was support because the (Somali) people wanted the story gotten out.” 

There are moments of brief flaws in the documentary, like some words in sub-titles need to be corrected; the time frame for descriptive words, between some scenes, need to be extended to make them easier to be read.  Compared to the power of the story of the documentary these are minor flaws one expects will be corrected. 

The title “Broken Dreams” captures the dark side of the Somali diasporas: the broken dreams of Muslim beliefs; the broken dreams of recent American immigrants; the broken dreams of freedom from the violence of war.  Despite this reality, Absie ends her documentary with a strong statement of hope.  At the end the documentary captures the faces, and voices, of young university aged Somalis, both men and woman, who express a strong sense of hope in this place they know as American immigrants, of how they are part of America’s future, as well as Somali’s, and that their Muslim beliefs gives them strength to thrive. 

After the documentary, I am proud to be able to say I share the place I we call America, with the new Somali immigrants.  As a third generation American immigrant, we, together, can only make this a greater nation. 

Notes from from the documentary’s website: “Fathia M. Absie trained as a social worker, today works as a freelance journalist, prior to that, for 3 years she worked at the Somali Service of the Voice of America (VOA) in Washington DC.  ‘Broken Dreams’ is a documentary film about the Vanishing Somali youth of Minneapolis, MN.  Home to the nation’s largest Somali immigrant population.  Most of these boys left Somalia as refugees when they were very young.  Some of them came here in the United States as toddlers while some of them were born outside Somalia in refugee camps and elsewhere.”

Website for “Broken Dreams”: http://www.brokendreamsdocumentary.com/

Contact producer Fathia M. Absie at farhiaa1@gmail.com