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'The Gravedigger’s Wife' Is A Love Letter To Somalis At Home And In The Diaspora

How can hope be found in a story about death? Khadar Ayderus Ahmed closes our interview with the message that right to the end, with a smile on Guled’s – the main character in his feature-length debut The Gravedigger’s Wife – face you can see: hope everywhere.

The Gravedigger’s Wife is a cinema first – the first Somali film to reach a British audience. Set in Djibouti, it is a purposeful examination of love, life, death, hope, community. So much manages to be said in this film without narration or over-explanation.

The lack of dialogue was a choice made by first-time director Ahmed, to invite us into this world without on-screen subtitles taking you out of it. For one hour and 28 minutes, I was engrossed in the world of Guled and his wife Nasra. As intended, I forgot I was watching a film – it felt like I was witnessing an enduring love unfold.

bell hooks clarified “love as a verb” in her book All About Love, and in opening scenes with Nasra and Guled, we see love in action. We see Guled, attentive and caring, but shortly after, my expectations of their dynamic are subverted. Guled is not simply a dutiful husband tending to his sick wife, Nasra, as Ahmed shares, is “the heart and soul of the film.”