What happened to all those "Somali pirate" movies that were announced when Somali pirate stories were seemingly all the rage 2 years ago, in what I thought would likely be the beginning of a deluge of pirate movies, all fashioned after the recent stories the media fell in love with, but failed to properly vet.
I expected that, by now, we'd have seen at least 1 of them realized; but, unless I'm just missing something, nada.
Let's see… there was Samuel L Jackson's production company (Uppity Films) securing the life rights of Andrew Mwangura, a negotiator between pirates and the owners of vessels hijacked off the coast of Africa, with Jackson, naturally, set to play the starring role; then there was Columbia Pictures' acquisition of the life story rights of Richard Phillips – the captain of one of the ships captured by Somalis Maersk Alabama) and later rescued by the U.S. Navy – with the aim to develop a feature film based on that story, and Tom Hanks attached to star; and then there was the adaptation of author Elmore Leonard's 44th, titled Djibouti – a fictitious tale centering on the pairing of a young, white female award-winning documentary filmmaker and "a studly 6-foot-6-inch black African leading man who, at 72, has lost none of his appeal to pretty young women," as they set sail into the Indian Ocean to make a movie that presents a sympathetic view of the African pirates operating on the east coast of the continent. Morgan Freeman and Sandra Bullock were reportedly being sought to star.
There were likely others I'm forgetting right now.
Anyway… my main concern with all those Hollywood productions is that their research teams paint for the audience the full picture of the so-called piracy of the Somalis, giving equal weight to all sides of the story, rather than focus on the ostensible heroics of one, while surpressing the harsh, incriminating truths about the other. One of my recommendations was that they start by reading this article by Johann Hari of The Independent in the UK: You Are Being Lied To About Pirates. I'd encourage you all to read it as well, if you haven't already. These dominating narrow portrayals of Africans as either the starving, helpless, hapless victims, or as post-colonial *savages,* have grown trite and tiresome, while failing to delve into the full complexities beneath the 2-dimensional surfaces we are often bombarded with.
So then… this morning, while taking a closer look at yesterday's Sundance 2012 Shorts Program lineup announcement, I found this film that immediately peeked my interest.
Titled Fishing Without Nets, the film's description says that it tells a story of pirates in Somalia, but does what other films on the subject don't seem all that interested in doing, and that is telling the story from the perspective of the pirates themselves.
Directed by 24-year-old LA-based filmmaker Cutter Hodierne, who's past experience, since high school, includes music/concert videos (most recently working with rock group U2), commercials and several shorts.
Fishing Without Nets is not a documentary by the way… it's a narrative short film; and from the looks of the teaser trailer below, he's definitely got my attention. I'd like to see the rest of this, and hopefully will when it makes its debut at Sundance next month.
I'd love to chat with him about how he was able to get this thing made! Nothing about this looks simple nor cheap.
Watch the teaser below: