Somalian Mo Harawe, winner of the Grand Prize at the world's largest short film festival

"Will My Parents Come To See Me", by Somali director Mo Harawe.

© Mo Harawe / sixpackfilm

Text by: Siegfried Forster Follow

7 mins

Will My Parents Come To See Me

, by young director Mo Harawe, won the International Grand Prize at the 45th Short Film Festival in Clermont-Ferrand, France, the biggest festival in the world of its kind.

This fiction was shot in Somalia and in Somali, the official language of the country.


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The Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival weighs heavily on the world cinema map.

It is here that today famous filmmakers, such as Denis Villeneuve, Ladj Ly or Mati Diop, broke through for the first time.

In his award-winning fiction,

Will My Parents Come To See Me

, Mo Harawe recounts the final day of a death row inmate, Farah.

The subject is serious, the apparent slowness of the images hides the terror of the execution which approaches in accelerated.

Each meticulously filmed scene tries to engrave itself in the memory of the spectators.

Mo Harawe shot his 28-minute film in Somali, the official language of Somalia, but for the 30-year-old director, it's not about denouncing the situation in a particular country.

His approach claims a universal dimension: to make visible the absurdity of the execution of the death penalty, whether in the United States, China, Iran, Saudi Arabia or in his native country, Somalia.

Born in 1992, in Mogadishu, Mo Harawe fled Somalia to take refuge in Austria in 2009.

It was there that he began his film career with several award-winning short films at festivals, such as

The Story of the Polar Bear That Wanted To Go To Africa

(2018) or

Life on the Horn


Today, he continues his studies at the University of the Arts in Kassel, Germany.

On the occasion of the awarding, on February 4, of the International Grand Prix of the Short Film Festival in Clermont-Ferrand, we are republishing the interview he gave us after his nomination in official competition at the Berlinale, in January 2022, where the international career of his film began.

Somali director Mo Harawe, winner of the International Grand Prize at the Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival 2023 for "Will My Parents Like To See Me".

© Helen Pecina


: Your film shows the last day of Farah, a death row inmate.

Is it an invented person


Mo Harawe

He's a fictional character, but representative of many other death row inmates, including many young people.

I concentrated different stories into a single character.

Why is the death penalty a subject that interests you


This theme was always present in one way or another during my childhood.

I have always heard of it.

With hindsight, I would say that it always weighed on me indirectly, without my knowing it.

That's why I wanted to do something about it.

Maybe it's some kind of therapy for me.

The title 

Will My Parents Come To See Me

 is the death row inmate's last wish, the last question.

With this film, did you want to realize this wish or the wish of a convict


Not necessarily.

It's just a hopeless moment, because it's not so easy for parents either.

This can also be seen in this desperate situation within the Somali system.

I wanted to ask the question: who has or who should have the responsibility: the state, parents, society?

The execution of the death sentence follows a meticulous protocol.

What we are following here, step by step, on the big screen, as spectators, is it typical of the situation in Somalia


The death penalty exists in many other countries.

But I wanted to show it through Somalia.

When we follow the preparation and execution of this death sentence in your film, we often have the impression of attending a play, because everything is staged in a very precise and effective way.

A real drama.

Is that how you staged this story


Yeah, I staged it that way because I didn't just want to tell a story arc, but give viewers space to make their own judgements, feel things, and have their own point of view. seen.

I didn't want them to just watch and move on.

In the film, they are forced to really look and unconsciously immerse themselves in this universe.

That was the idea behind this staging and the long sequence shots... The spectator must watch the film actively and not passively.

The prison cell, the convict's last meal in the dining room, the place of execution, these are very impressive places.

Where did you shoot this film


In Somalia.

The filming locations are authentic, with the exception of the prison cell that we built ourselves for technical filming reasons.

Everything else was actual locations in northeastern Somalia.

A death row inmate is one of the few people who know exactly when they are going to die.

This is a programmed moment that lies between life and death.

What interested you the most


Death to come or life still in progress, for example when the condemned, during the transport to the execution, still looks very curiously out of the window


Everything that happens between now and then interests me.

He remains curious, because he has not yet understood that he is going to die.

He realizes it only a few meters from the execution pole – and this is also the case in reality.

Convicts only realize the death penalty when they are on the spot, that is to say where they will be shot or hanged.

The fact that he is then shot also leads to a situation where it becomes clear that, even if the protocol is there, even if everything happens "


", all of this is not "normal".

How do you show this abnormality


Everything is contradictory.

Everything the characters in the film do is contradictory.

I hope this will come across clearly in the film.

You just have to look consciously to see that this is not normal.

That's what we tried to do with the camera: look consciously. 

Why does a death row inmate receive a good meal and a sleeping pill to sleep well before being executed


Why is he examined to verify that he is in good health to be executed


Yes, it is absurd.

But the principle of the death penalty is that the harm you have done is compensated by death.

The whole process surrounding it shows the absurdity of the thing.

If you are sick or die normally, you are considered not to have paid this debt.

The film shows how absurd this logic is.

The debt is only paid if you are executed in good health.

You were born in Somalia and arrived in Austria twelve years ago.

Today you are studying in Germany at the University of the Arts in Kassel.

Have we seen today a film by a Somali filmmaker, a Somali film


It always depends on the subject I'm working on.

In this case, because this theme has always been present for me since my childhood, I would say that today it was the film of a Somali filmmaker.

For another subject, which would take place in Austria, it would be different.

But this is the film of a Somali filmmaker.

"Will My Parents Come To See Me", by Somali director Mo Harawe.

© Mo Harawe / sixpackfilm


Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival 2023


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