Canadian Filmmakers' Stunned Reaction to Islamist Militias Killing World Cup

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Documentary filmmakers Forth and Smith interviewed over 500 Somalis across Canada and learned two things: they are crazy in love with soccer and they want a secular elected government similar to what they experience in Canada.

Documentary filmmakers, Laura J. Forth and James A. Smith were stunned to hear that Islamist Milititas had seized control of Mogadishu, Somalia and cut power to World Cup broadcasts. "We interviewed over 500 Somalis all across Canada asking them what type of government they wanted for Somalia. All of them said, unequivocally, that they wanted a modern, Western-style government, like the one we have here in Canada. None of them wanted an Islamic government with Sharia courts or Sharia law." So, the pair of find it very difficult to believe that the Militias that have seized power represent the will of the people. "The one commonality that we found in the Somalis, besides a desire for an elected secular government is this overwhelming love of soccer. They are absolutely crazy in love with soccer!

"In our documentary, we shot them playing it down at Ashbridges Bay (Toronto Beaches) amid snowdrifts there. We even have footage of them playing soccer in the 10 foot snowdrifts of Northern Ontario in minus 30 degree weather. So we're sure everybody back in Somalia is pretty upset that the Militias killed the power to the cinemas broadcasting the World Cup."

Forth, Dahir and Smith have created a documentary, which gets opinions directly from the Somali diaspora in North America about the style of government they want for the troubled region. 'Leopards in the Snow, the story of Somalis in Canada' features exiled Somali TV and radio broadcaster, Mohamed Dahir.

"Leopards shows one man's journey across Canada in the winter as he seeks to discover what his fellow Somalis think of living in Canada and also what their hopes and dreams are for the country they left behind -- Somalia, the only country in the world without a government." Laura Forth, filmmaker noted that, "even the little children that we interviewed, besides describing their love of pizza, expressed a desire for peace and stability. They love the fact that in Canada they can go outside and play. They can't do that in Somalia -- it's not safe."

And Canada is still a wonder to them. One girl describes the first time she saw snow, "The first time I saw snow, I thought it was mashed potatoes. So I took some gravy and poured it on the snow and tried to eat it! That's when I realized it wasn't mashed potatoes!" That was one of her first memories of Canada. Forth, adds, "And teenage Somali girls here in Canada are studying politics and medicine."

In the documentary they discuss how they are working hard on their education so that they can go back one day to Somalia and help to make it like Canada with universal education and healthcare and equality for women. Will they ever get a chance to fulfill those dreams now?"

Leopards in the Snow will be broadcast on Omni 2, Rogers Television. Producers Forth, Dahir and Smith will present the film at Lund, Sweden, August 2006, as part of an international conference regarding the future of Somalia.

"We were hoping that democracy would slowly happen in Somalia as a result of academic discussions about how to improve the situation. Our film suggests some of these ways that could improve the situation. We never thought that the battle with the Warlords and the Islamist forces would happen. We hope that democracy has not been permanently disrailed."

For more information contact:
Laura J. Forth


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Laura Forth
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