2009 || Germany-Austria-UK || in English || Feature


The Match Factory (Cologne)


Venice 09 - Venice Days, San Sebastian 09 - Winner: Audience Prize for a European Film


Like in a fairy tale, Somalian-born Waris Dirie became one of the world’s most sought-after top models. Born into a family of goat-herding nomads, Waris' fascinating path would take her from the Northeast African deserts to the world's most prestigious fashion runways and magazines. At 13, Waris fled forced marriage and crossed days of desert alone before reaching the Somali capital Mogadishu. Relatives soon shipped her off to London to work as a servant in the Somali embassy, where she spent the rest of her adolescent years in illiteracy. When faced with the threat of returning to war-torn Somalia, Waris finds herself homeless and illegal. Spunky shopgirl Marilyn takes Waris in and becomes a trusted friend. While working in a fast food restaurant, Waris is discovered by star photographer Terry Donaldson, and ambitious agent Lucinda guides her transformation into a working model. But behind the glamorous facade of Waris' new life lies a deeply heart-stirring fate. Despite her success, Waris remains burdened by a violent childhood secret. At the height of her career, Waris reveals to the world that she was a victim of female genital mutilation. Her story unleashes a wave of sympathy and controversy, and Waris decides to dedicate her life to fighting this barbaric tradition.


Liya Kebede (as Waris), Sally Hawkins, Craig Parkinson, Juliet Stevenson, Anthony Mackie, Meera Syal and Soraya Omar-Scego (as child Waris)


- Based on the best-selling book "Desert Flower" by Waris Dirie
- produced by Oscar-winning Peter Herrmann (NOWHERE IN AFRICA, 2003 Academy Award winner for Best Foreign Language Film)