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TIFF 2021: “The Gravedigger`s Wife”


Rating: 5 out of 5.

There is no such thing as impossible when it comes to saving the life of a loved one. If going through fire barefoot is the only option, then one will see it as a doable task. However, will that level of sacrifice bring the result is the bigger question which “The Gravedigger’s Wife” is about to tackle.

Every day, Guled (Omar Abdi) hunts dead bodies for a living. He runs towards the hospital to retrieve one but gets sad each time when there’s nobody to bury. No matter how sad the whole job is, it’s all that the man does to feed his family. Things change when his beautiful wife Nasra (Yasmin Warsame) gets sick and requires immediate removal of her infected kidney. The surgery can save her life, but the money the hospital asks for from Guled is equivalent to the amount he makes in a year. Having little time left, he has only one option as the last resort. The option that can endanger his own life.

“The Gravedigger’s Wife” is a beautifully crafted love story of two people who, despite living in complete poverty, have big plans for the future. Guled and Nasra are not able to write or read so can’t their son, Mahad. The two want the best for their child, who keeps skipping school behind his parents’ back. Always distant from his father, Mahad is too close to his mother and when he learns has not much left to live, gets increasingly upset. Guled, of course, has a lot to carry on his shoulders and the pride he must put aside when he makes the decision to go to his home village to ask for his herd, not realising, he is no longer welcome there.

Directed by Khadar Ayderus Ahmed, the film provides a poignant story of love, gain and loss, empathy and kindness. There is a lot we can learn from Guled, Mahad or Nasra. All three characters are so richly written, we can easily come up with so many options as we play out their fate in our minds. We know their struggle, realize their pain and want them to succeed. But we know, hunting dead bodies or cleaning up dirty windshields of cars may not provide the solution to their imminent problem. But the unity, the strong family bond and love for each other give hope to them, and to you too, because at a time of despair if that’s not what you would do to save your beloved, what else then?

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