Falling for Sahara (2011) MIFF Film Review


I really, really wanted to love this film. I really tried to love it. I did like it a lot, but I just didn’t love it. I’ll start with the positives, which far outweigh the negatives. I loved the concept of a film about the everyday lives of refugees settled in Australia, especially with all of the constant discussion on borders and boats and detention. I’m glad that it was about their daily lives, living in the housing commission towers in Flemington and not about their journeys or the battles they may have fought to get out of their home country and here. Please, don’t get me wrong, I definitely believe that those stories are very important too, but I love stories about everyday life, whether it is everyday life in Paris or in Melbourne.  I like that it was about teenagers and that it was about love.

Let me tell you more. The film focuses on three African refugee boys who are tight friends. Along comes Sarhara, a gorgeous girl who stays with her aunt for a while and the three boys end up in competition for her affection. The film was developed by Khoa Do, former Young Australian of the Year, in conjunction with members of the community, including the actors.  I think this is a fabulous idea, and an idea that I have often seen in community theatre, but not so much in film. It is a pretty impressive result – I just have two key criticisms.

The first is that I think that the script needed a little more work to tighten it up and ensure that the scenes leading up to the climax were more intense which would create heightened emotion in both the audience and characters. The other criticism was that, at times (and I stress at times, as most of the acting was very good) the editing could have been tighter to make some interactions more believable and less like people following a script.

Back to the stuff I liked. I liked the characters, and I’d love to see more of them. If not a sequel, what about a television show? Perhaps that could be next – it worked with the Heartbreak Kid.

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