The Village Next to Paradise 2024

Directed by Mo Harawe Fresh

A makeshift family struggles with the challenges of daily life in the hope of finding a better future in this poignant debut from Somali filmmaker Mo Harawe, taking us beyond the usual sensationalist portrayal of his homeland.

Aug 12

Hollywood Avondale

Aug 13

Hollywood Avondale

Somalia In Somali with English subtitles
133 minutes Colour / DCP

Director, Screenplay


Sabine Moser, Oliver Neumann


Mostafa El Kashef


Joana Scrinzi

Production Designer

Nuur Abdulkadir

Costume Designer

Sarah Ismail


Ahmed Ali Farah, Anab Ahmed Ibrahim, Ahmed Mohamud Saleban


Cannes (Un Certain Regard) 2024


In a country where your life could be suddenly terminated by an American drone and paramilitaries patrol every street, leading a normal, secure life seems a utopian delusion. Yet, in Somali-Austrian director Mo Harawe’s quietly stunning debut The Village Next to Paradise, a trio of characters negotiate their own way maybe not to paradise, but something close to it.  

Mamargade is a middle-aged man who drives trucks carrying mysterious cargo and tries to keep away from trouble; his young son Cigaal shares his imaginative dreams with anyone who will listen; while Mamargade’s divorced sister Araweelo aspires to buy a sewing machine in order to gain her independence.  

Plunging us into the everyday life of a Somali village with the ever-present sound of the desert wind, the waves lapping the seashore, the vividly colourful landscapes and fabrics, Harawe’s fond and tender labour of love retains a documentary like quality. His dispassionate and ethically conscious cinematic gaze draws audiences close to his characters, who pursue their simple goals with intent and dignity. Through this heartwarming gem of a film, Harawe bestows upon his characters and his country the priceless gift of hope. — Paolo Bertolin 

“The film, which shot over three months in Somalia, has a striking visual literacy; a particular achievement given that most of the crew are newcomers. Egyptian DoP Mostafa El Kashef has a real eye for framing, often placing his characters at the edge of a wide shot which takes in the comforts of their home, or the rugged beauty of the landscape that surround them… There’s a strong sense of authorship in every scene, every decision, from Marmagade matter-of-fact yet sensitive approach to burying the dead to Araweelo’s quiet determination to best a system that she knows she cannot change. This may not be paradise in a traditional sense, but it is nevertheless a place of hope.” — Nikki Baughan, Screen Daily