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Desert Flower: A Film About Beauty That's Beyond Skin Deep

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Desert Flower isn’t your typical fashion film.  Based on top model Waris Dire’s autobiography of the same name, Desert Flower charts Dire’s triumphant journey from the nomadic life in Somalia, to international supermodeldom, to her current role as a UN Ambassador and award-winning human rights activist.

The movie, like Dire, isn’t wrapped in crepe-de-chine-clad fantasy.  It’s focused on the triumph of a woman’s spirit, rather than the gift of extraordinary beauty and the romantic opportunities, and material accoutrements, that may accompany it.  Dire endured female genital mutilation at age three, and the trauma of that experience, along with its physio-psychological repercussions, inspired her retirement at the height of her modeling success - and her subsequent reinvention.  With her portfolio shelved, in 1997, Dire published her namesake tome (Waris translates to Desert Flower), and devoted her life to raising awareness about female genital mutilation.

Supermodel Liya Kebede gives a sublime performance as Dire, in her first starring role.  With its theme of strength in beauty, and focus on global women’s rights, Kebede couldn’t be more perfectly cast.  Kebede and Dire share not only successful modeling careers and East African origins, but also an intense commitment to advocating for women’s issues worldwide (Kebede is a World Health Organization Ambassador for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health).

What could be depicted as a true life Cinderella-tale evolves instead into a story about a woman, meant in the film to represent all women, who continues to blossom – even when there is no light, no nourishment, and it would seem, no hope.

The film may not offer any juicy, behind-the-seams anecdotes, but fashionistas, model-philes, and anyone who simply loves a happy ending, will be hard-pressed to dislike this lovely film. Check out B.Couleur's Pan African movie scroll for Desert Flower's  trailer.

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