Forbidden to Watch Films as a Child, He Now Directs Somalia’s Top Shows

At the shout of “action,” two actors, costumed in black blazers and sunglasses, erupted into a spirited shouting match, gesticulating wildly as one demanded that the other convince his daughter to marry him.

A cameraman and a boom operator, sweaty under a scorching sun, moved in to capture the altercation in close-up.

Then the director, Abshir Rageh, seated in a foldable chair, removed his headphones and called: “Cut.”

From the props scattered about, to the crew members running around with scripts in hand, to the sophisticated recording equipment, this looked like any film set in Hollywood or Bollywood or Nollywood.

But the sandy alleys near the shoot — and the band of security officers slinging genuine AK-47s — were signs that this was somewhere else. In case there was any doubt, the sound of real bullets being fired and ringing out in the distance before the scene was filmed made clear this was anything but your typical location.

Mr. Rageh works in one of the world’s most unexpected cities for an emerging auteur looking to forge his cinematic reputation: the seaside capital of Somalia, Mogadishu.

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