REVIEW: Asad [2012]

Score: 7/10 | ★ ★ ★

Rating: NR | Runtime: 18 minutes | Release Date: 2012 (South Africa)
Studio: Hungry Man
Director(s): Bryan Buckley
Writer(s): Bryan Buckley

“Soon? My life is filled with soons.”

Young Asad (Harun Mohammed) is an energetic boy with an insane knowledge of the ocean and tides that make him a perfect candidate to become a fisherman like his teacher, old Erasto (Ibrahim Moallim Hussein). Saddled with a streak of bad luck preventing him from catching anything substantial, however, his time spent on the beach drifts from fishing onto his idol Laban (Adiwale Mohamed) and the other men readying to go off with bad attitudes and guns to rob Europeans on the open sea. In a war-torn country like Somalia, many children grow up into the violence and horror because they have no other choice. Only the lucky few like Asad with a guardian angel of sorts can hope to stay on a righteous path.

Writer/director Bryan Buckley of Hungry Man Productions is a prolific commercial director with over forty Super Bowl ads, thirty-seven Cannes Lions, five Emmy nominations, and a 2010 Adweek Readers’ poll Commercial Director of the decade victory. With all these accolades in a career that began back in 1994, it’s amazing he’s only just now earning his first Oscar nomination for the short film Asad. More than a modern fable rooted in a dangerous world devoid of rules, this work is a collaboration by those who wish to see their country reborn as an inhabitable society. Every actor involved—save a British woman at the end—is a Somali refugee who still holds onto the hope better days may be coming.

A wonderful parable on humanity’s strength and will to survive, we watch Asad prove himself to be more of a man than any of those quick to pick up a gun and terrorize unsuspecting innocents. When a band of Mogadishu soldiers comes to threaten his friend Ali (Ali Mohammed), only Asad is there to stick up for him. When Erasto is beaten and cut by the same amoral rebels, only Asad is willing to help. The winds of legend say the boy will one day capture the greatest catch his hometown has ever seen, but they’re merely words without the love of his mother and tutelage of Erasto to stir him true. We all make choices holding either salvation or destruction and through Asad we learn the power of singular courage against insurmountable corruption.

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