Preview Somali Pirate Thriller ‘A Hijacking’ (Takes Tragic Global Economic Disparities Into Consideration)

AUGUST 15, 2012 12:24 PM

“A Hijacking”

The Somali pirate movie bomb-rush I expected to come over the last couple of years never did quite materialize, despite the few related projects that were announced.

Here’s one that we’re just now learning about, and that I’d say, despite not seeming to tell the story strictly from the Somalian POV, actually looks like it could be, dare I say, comprehensive, fair and balanced in the overall story it seeks to tell. Although I certainly haven’t seen it yet, so I’m going solely on what I’ve read about it.

From Danish filmmaker Tobias Lindholm comes A Hijacking. Its synopsis reads:

Tensions are high after a Danish freighter is captured and held for ransom by Somali pirates, leading to weeks of high-stakes negotiations — and an escalating potential for explosive violence — in Tobias Lindholm’s grittily authentic and suspenseful thriller.

As I’ve expressed many times in the past, my main concern with films that center on this specific issue is that they don’t appear all-tha interested in painting the full picture of the so-called piracy of the Somalis, for the audiene - giving equal weight to all sides of the story, rather than focus on the ostensible heroics of one, while surpressing the harsh, incriminating truths about the other.

These dominating narrow portrayals of Africans as either starving, helpless, hapless victims, or as post-colonial *savages,* have grown trite and tiresome, while failing to delve into the full complexities beneath the 2-dimensional surfaces we are often bombarded with.

So when I read that Lindholm’s film, A Hijacking, is “a fascinating window onto the phenomenon of modern piracy — yet another by-product of the catastrophic economic disparity between impoverished countries and the “First World”,” I was encouraged. It tells me that the filmmaker seems to understand that there’s more than just simplistic “good and evil” or “good versus evil” labeling here. It’s a far more complicated issue than many realize.

A little bit more of what I read about the film:

Meanwhile, the crew, their families, and the pirates themselves — some of them just kids, some apparently coerced into participating in the hijack — struggle to deal with the ever-mounting pressure, uncertainty, and potential for violence.

And also…

Hewing to the aesthetic he devised for his co-directed feature debut R (which dealt with life in a penitentiary), Lindholm and his collaborators make vivid use of actual locations and draw some of their cast from people who have been involved in similar situations… Far more than a gimmick, these elements of authenticity and Lindholm’s documentary style not only invest the proceedings with a lived-in, matter-of-fact air, but ratchet up the tension and create an all-too-believable atmosphere of claustrophobia and fear. Forgoing exploitation tactics and cheap thrills, Lindholm zooms in on the harsh reality of his scenario.

So… I’m interested, and would definitely like to check this out for myself, and hope it makes it way to NYC.

A Hijacking will make its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival next month.

I’ll go seek out Linholm’s first feature mentioned above.