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Fardosa, screenshot 02 (1)

Fardosa is the dreamy coming-of-age film made by first-time actors

This beautiful, ambiguous short film depicts one night in the dreams and the waking life of a teenage Finnish-Somali girl and her friends

Fardosa is the haunting coming-of-age short film made by Rukia Mahamed, Iqlaas Osman, and Anton Tammi. Premiered on NOWNESS, Fardosa depicts a brief interlude in the life of its eponymous teenaged protagonist. With uncanny circularity, we meet Fardosa (acted by Rukia Mahamed) on the astral plane, in a strange and vivid nightmare about being alone in a forest. The narrative takes us on a journey through her waking life as she spends time with her best friend and cousin, Iqlaas (Iqlaas Osman), negotiates her curfew with her mother, and goes out at night with friends. As the story unfolds, the boundaries between reality and dreaming begin to feel porous; there’s slippage between Fardosa’s identity as a daughter, as a friend, and as an individual. “Sometimes I feel like I live more than one life,” she says. “There’s the one I live with my family. And another one I live with my friends. But then there’s the third one that I live by myself.”

Made with a cast of entirely non-professional Finnish-Somali actors, the film is a collaboration between its co-stars, Mahamed and Osman (both first-time actors, writers, and filmmakers), and director Tammi, with the supporting actresses Marian Juuni, Sabah Mohamud, Saamia Mohamud and Saamia Kinzi Roble. This unique project involved working as a collective, allowing the cast to improvise and have creative input over their roles. “Collaborating with Rukia and Iqlaas was a lot based on improvisation, that allowed them to tell their own story, with their own style,” says Tammi. “The film is an end result of our collective values, moods, and taste that we all share.”

The plot pivots on Fardosa’s decision to secretly borrow the keys to her brother’s car – a dilemma that’s been waiting in the wings from the first moment we learn of the vehicle’s tantalising existence. It seems inexorable, and there’s a seductive inevitability about her choice to grab the keys and spend the night driving around with friends in the light of the seemingly endless sunset, over and above the risk of defying her family. 

Is it a moment of self-actualisation? Or is it further evidence of Fardosa’s compliance? The film leaves us space to interpret the story as we wish.

“Personally to me it’s a film about a girl that always is willing to put others first and trying to please her family and friends until she starts to lose herself in everyone’s world,” says the film’s lead, Rukia Mahamed. “Sometimes she just wants to disappear in her own peaceful world.” Iqlaas Osman’s interpretation of the film is of a young woman trying to achieve autonomy. “It’s a young woman’s journey of growth within the generational and cultural framework,” she says. “Finally seeing Fardosa’s character floating to a dream-like state.”

Fardosa asks us how we reconcile the different component parts of ourselves and the expectations of others; it weighs up the responsibilities of home life and family with the allure of our peers; it evokes the exhilaration of being with friends, and the dizzying possibilities of being young and at the wheel of a car; it reminds us of our true isolation while showing us moments of heightened and profound connection with others. Above all, it’s poignant, stunningly beautiful, and dreamily ambiguous.

Watch Fardosa, premiering on NOWNESS, now