TIFF 2021: The Gravedigger’s Wife

Image courtesy of TIFF

The Gravedigger’s Wife is an uplifting family drama that’s sure to win over any audience.

Guled (Omar Abdi) is a gravedigger devoted to his wife, Nasra (Yasmin Warsame). She suffers from a kidney infection that gets progressively worse, and Guled is desperate to make money for her treatment. They have a son Mahad (Kadar Abdhoul-Aziz Ibrahim), who runs around town, not going to school and not wanting to be in the same room with his parents. When Guled has no choice but to visit his estranged family in a remote village to ask for help, he races against the clock to put Nasra on the road to recovery.

With such a serious subject, you’ll be surprised by how many lighthearted moments Ahmed weaves into The Gravedigger’s Wife. Guled and Nasra are truly in love, and Guled, who feels failed at most things in his life, becomes a hero in his own odyssey to save the woman he fell head over heels for when he was a boy.

The performances were fantastic. Abdi’s eyes conveyed kindness and determination, and I was happy to see Warsame really nail her character in her first acting role. I remember her in the 00s as a top model, cheering her on as one of the few successful Black models at that time. This film is a nailbiter, too, with several tense moments that get the pulse racing when the family hits several roadblocks to their journey for Nasra’s health and the survival of their family unit.

The Somalian landscape was aglow through the lens of cinematographer Arttu Peltomaa, with the arid beige, orange, and yellow hues blasted by the African sunlight. It’s so important to show the beauty of places outside the Western world and that globally, people have the same hopes, dreams and problems.

Khadar Ayderus Ahmed’s first feature film is a triumph of rock-solid love and charm-a universal story of a family desperate to persevere through hard times.

Check out the 2021 TIFF festival here.

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