The Gravedigger’s Wife, first feature film by Khadar Ayderus Ahmed, was presented in competition in 2021 at the 60th Semaine de la Critique. The film received the Amplify Voices Award at the Toronto International Film Festival, the Gold Stallion at Fespaco in Ouagadougou and the Audience Award at Films from the South Festival in Oslo. It has also been selected for the International Film Festival of India in Goa and the International Film Festival of Chicago.
The Gravedigger’s Wife is produced by Bufi and will be released in French theaters on April 27, distributed by Urban Distribution.
Guled and Nasra are a loving couple, living in the outskirts of Djibouti city with their teenage son, Mahad. However, they are facing difficult times: Nasra urgently needs an expensive surgery to treat a chronic kidney disease. Guled is already working hard as a gravedigger to make ends meet: how can they find the money to save Nasra and keep the family together ?
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« The story was inspired by a sudden death that occurred in the family ten years ago in Helsinki. I found the process of the islamic funeral arrangement long, moving and exhausting. On the memorial day, my brother asked me if I knew how easy it was to burry someone in Somalia, to which I replied « No ». He then went on to tell me how easy it was as there would always be a bunch of gravediggers in front of the hospital who were ready to bury the body within a few hours. It was THAT moment, still at the cemetery, that this gravedigger character came to me. I couldn’t get him out of my head. It started to haunt me at work, in my sleep, even when eating until I sat down to write about my gravedigger named Guled. »
« The Gravedigger’s Wife” is tacitly damning of the systemic failures that necessitate such opportunism, a carrion economy that proves unsustainable when Guled requires the medical establishment to protect some lives more than others. Gradually, however, Ahmed’s script sheds this subtly satirical streak in favor of a sentimentally cosmic view of life and death in balance — complete with heavily pointed cross-cutting — that’s less witty and more overtly heart-tugging. »
Interview with Khadar Ayderus Ahmed