We’re apparently not yet done with movies about Somali piracy; there was a period of about 3 years (2011 to 2014) when it seemed like we were writing about a new film (scripted or documentary) on the subject every other month, and there was so much American news media coverage on the issue, although, in my opinion, much of it rather one-sided and not very in-depth.
“Captain Phillips” – based on a true story – was one of the higher profile fictionalized accounts which was released in 2013. Directed by Paul Greengrass, and starring Tom Hanks, it introduced us to a young Somali actor named Barkhad Abdi, who would go on to be nominated for an Academy Award for his performance in the film (although he didn’t win).
Abdi, who thankfully managed to stay busy after “Captain Phillips” (it wasn’t entirely certain that he’d have a Hollywood career), is now set to appear in another Somali Pirate film, this one titled “Dabka,” also based on a true story, written by Jay Bahadur (author of the bestseller “The Pirates of Somalia”).
Directed by Bryan Buckley, “Dabka” follows then rookie journalist Jay Bahadur, who comes up with a half-baked, though ultimately successful plan to embed himself among Somali pirates; this was in 2008. And in the process, he provided what became the first close-up look into who these men were that were receiving media coverage in the west, often without much context, as well as how they lived, and the forces that drove them.
An official synopsis reads: When rookie writer and proud Canadian Jay Bahadur has a chance encounter with his journalist idol, he decides to uproot his life in the name of research for his first book. Abandoning his comfortable life, he moves to Somalia to investigate a still-unfolding situation with pirates off the country’s coast. It’s 2008 and the cargo vessel MV Faina has just been hijacked. Based on a true story, “Dabka” follows a naïve young journalist’s headlong dive into a country he has no business being in. A free agent without government support or a publishing deal, Jay bucks conventions to conduct a raw, on the ground investigation. Director Bryan Buckley takes a cinematic look at Bahadur’s ill-planned adventure as it becomes a tale of honor, resilience and friendship. Featuring Melanie Griffith as Jay’s mother, Barkhad Abdi as , and supporting cast of Somali non-actors.
Evan Peters stars as Jay Bahadur, and he’s joined in front of the camera by the great Al Pacino (who plays Bahadur’s journalist idol per the above synopsis), as well as Melanie Griffith (as Bahadur’s mother), and the aforementioned Barkhad Abdi as Bahadur’s main local (Somali) contact and translator, who essentially assists in his embedding within pirate circles.
Produced by Hungry Man, BCDF Pictures and Kalahari Pictures, “Dabka” is set to make its world premiere in the U.S. Narrative Competition section at the Tribeca Film Festival which runs from April 19 to 29 in New York City.
A first clip from the film has surfaced, featuring Barkhad Abdi and Evan Peters; watch it below: