Filmmakers go in search of peace with Seattle Somali community

Washington State is home to more than 40,000 refugees from civil war and political violence in Somalia. But this population is more complex than the occasional news story about Somalia would imply.

That belief is at the heart of “In Search of Nabad,” a feature-length documentary film about the Somali community in Seattle, produced by Set Foot Films and currently seeking funding through Kickstarter to complete shooting and production.

“Especially living in one of the most diverse populations on the planet, I want to get to know my neighbors,” says co-director Brian O’Rourke who works with the local Somali population as a “family and community engagement specialist” at West Seattle Elementary. “The more I got to know people, the more stories I heard from moms and grandmas, the more convinced I became that these stories should be told.”

The goal ofIn Search of Nabad,” is to highlight those stories, with an emphasis on the search for peace (Nabad in Somali). That search is defined in the trailer currently up on Kickstarter as not only an escape from war but also a quest for citizenship, success and belonging in a new country. 

O’Rourke, who emphasizes that the direction of the documentary has been largely influenced by the issues raised in the community during interviews, says that that balance between appreciating peace and advocating for rights and resources is a regular theme.

“People want to succeed and be happy, they want to get involved in the community,” says O’Rourke, “but [they] need resources.”

Community involvement is also a deeply held value of the project, as proven by a community supporters list that includes Somali Community Services of Seattle, High Point Neighborhood House, Refugee Women’s Alliance and Seattle Public Schools.

Peace Somalia Seattle
A still from the In Search of Nabad Kickstarter video

“Most of the people we’re talking to have been really happy to share their experiences and want to be in front of the camera,” says co-director Sorayya Aminian, “They want to share their stories.”

And Aminian is a believer in sharing stories that connect cultures, her short film “Cooking with Pari Joon,” which documents an afternoon spent in the kitchen cooking Persian food with her grandmother, just got props from Charles Mudede for being an example of “the cinema of global Seattle.”

But creating the cinema of global Seattle takes resources, and for that Aminian and O’Rourke again put their faith in community and asked for supporters to donate to their online campaign.  Their first goal, of $4,000, was reached within 36 hours.  Thrilled by their success, they’ve since informally increased the goal to $10,000 and have until April 3rd to reach it.

Aminian and O’Rourke say it’s good to know they there are so many people out there interested in supporting projects like “Nabad.”

As one man from the trailer put it, “There is always a benefit from storytelling, the more we tell our stories the more good will come of them.”

Sarah Stuteville

Sarah Stuteville is a print and multimedia journalist. She’s a cofounder of The Seattle Globalist. Stuteville won the 2011 Sigma Delta Chi Award for magazine writing. She writes a weekly column on our region’s international connections that is shared by the Seattle Globalist and The Seattle Times and funded with a grant from Seattle International Foundation. Reach Sarah at sarah@seattleglobalist.com.
Sarah Stuteville

2 Comments

  1. Sarah this is such a great story. Thank you for sharing with us the incredible work and plight of the Somali community in Seattle. I am so glad their story is being told both through their documentary and by you!

  2. Sarah this is such a great story. Thank you for sharing with us the incredible work and plight of the Somali community in Seattle. I am so glad their story is being told both through their documentary and by you!

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