Hot Docs 2015 Review: Warriors From The North
“Everyone goes to paradise.”
Warriors from the North tells the grim tale of a group of young Somali-Scandinavian men, who while lost in life, find a home in al-Shabab, a Somali militant rebel group that aims for Islamic rule over the world. Their story begins for us where it ends for one of the young men, Abdi, who is moments away from taking his life along with several others in a suicide bombing at a celebration for a group of graduating medical students in Mogaishu, a pivotal moment in the story which sets the tone for the documentary.
The narrative is split between a faceless member of the group, whose identity is hidden for protection, and one of the young men’s father, Abukar, who, with little success, is attempting to reach out to his son to plead for him to come home. Their stories are two sides to the same tale, giving the viewer an all encompassing look into the world that these men live, a world where the right answer doesn’t always mean a happy ending.
While the split narrative tends to be cumbersome, directors Nasib Farah and Soren Steen Jespersen manage to hone in on the humanity in this story, which continually pulls you back in. Minimal and tasteful reenactments are beautifully shot along with real world footage under the watchful eye of cinematographer Henrik Bohn Opsen, pushing the viewers involvement visually. This is all aided by the minimal but wonderfully atmospheric soundtrack composed by Morten Svenstrup.
Warriors from the North is a disheveled but beautifully shot look into a murkier way of life that finds legs in the underlying realities the story uncovers.