Every once in a while, you come across a film that moves you. Last night I watched Desert Flower, a movie about the life of super model Waris Dirie, and I was touched. A lot of times people think of models as these brainless blank canvases, but a lot of them have stories that would blow your minds. Liya Kebede plays Waris; Waris means "Desert Flower", hence the name of the movie. I really like Liya as a model but she did a FANTASTIC job in this film, I never even knew she could act!
Click Read More to see the movie trailer plus a few pics of the two women and my summary...
After being told she would marry a man decades older that her, the 13 yr old Waris flees her home in the deserts of Somalia. Traveling alone; Waris suffers heat exhaustion, hunger, rape and more, eventually finding herself in Mogadishu (home of her grandmother) and then the UK. She spent six years as a house maid in the Somalian embassy house, until a Coup back home recalled all Somalian diplomats; that included Waris and she was NOT having that.
Waris Dirie and Liya Kebede
She ran away from the embassy and the shy young woman bravely assimilated to London culture when she made a random but amazingly loyal friend, Marilyn (played by Sally Hawkins)... who thought she was a shoplifter at first. She had her ups and downs while becoming a woman in London (including a deportation scare and brief staged marriage) but she was determined to create a better life for herself.
Liya and Sally as Waris and Marilyn
One of my favorite scenes is when Waris deals with the realization and pain of understanding that she suffered from the practice of female genital mutilation. The hardest thing to see and hear was the "actual" ritual scene; she was 3 years old when they performed the mutilation. That is, as she describes, the day that changed her life. Although she survived mutilation, her two sisters didn't.
One of the pictures that catapulted Waris Dire's career in 1987
Even though she had a difficult past, Waris Dirie became one of the worlds top supermodels, gracing the covers of Vogue, Harpers Baazar, Elle, Glamour and more. She also became a passionate UN special ambassador for female genital mutilation. She was the first woman to publicly speak out against it and since then, female circumcision had been forbidden in many countries... despite this fact, the ritual is still practiced to this day.
I can see why they chose Liya, she could be Waris' daughter!
Waris Dirie and Liya Kebede for H&M
If you like docu-movies, you'll love this. It's really an amazing story! I never knew who Waris Dirie was, but i'm so happy I know now. She is a voice for so many women like her.
What do you guys think?