Screen Editor Gethin Morgan reviews Lost Warrior, which had its UK premiere at Sheffield Doc/Fest on 10 June.

This doc from co-directors Nasib Farah and Soren Steen Jespersen follows Mohammed, a young Somalian man desperately trying to find a way back to his family in the UK. Mohammed moved to the UK as an eight-year-old, without his parents, seeking asylum. Growing up he found himself amongst the wrong crowd and ended up in prison. As a non-UK citizen he served his sentence and was immediately deported back to Somalia.

He’s an impressionable young man and was misled by al-Shabab, a Somali terrorist organisation. He served only as a well educated man and computer handyman. He was never involved in any violence and once he realised what al-Shabab were and what they did he abandoned the group, putting him on their wanted-list.

Not only is he wanted by terrorists and harrassed by the police, who still believe that he is part of the group, he is also separated from his wife Fathi and their infant son, who live in East London. All Mohammed wants to do is be a father to his child and, thanks to his own abandonment issues, he’s petrified of putting his son through the same experiences.

The complication is that there is practically no chance of him ever legally moving to the UK. As a man with a criminal record and prior connections to a terrorist group, his hopes are brutally and (and quite fairly from an immigration perspective) crushed. This film follows his attempts to try and reunite his family.

It’s a real heartbreaking watch. Mohammed is a simple, optimistic guy with a heart of gold. Fathi is a strong, loving mother frustrated at the lack of progress. It’s so hard to see two people who love each other and have the same wish grow further apart as they struggle to communicate. Neither can fully see the other’s perspective and talking across Facetime doesn’t help matters.

It’s the little moments which drive home the difficulty of Mohammed’s situation. He talks to a friend about fatherhood and his excitement at the idea of teaching your child how to walk is heartbreaking. All he wants is to be a father and the fact that he misses out on all those little moments is devastating.

The two contrasting threads of the single-mother in London alongside the man stranded in Somalia are really well balanced and the film is put together so well that the 1hr 25m runtime flies by.

Lost Warrior is a unique tale of a man handcuffed by his past – a past that certainly does not reflect who he is. His motivations are simple and pure but, devastatingly, he is trapped by circumstances he can no longer control.

4 stars

Image Credit: Sheffield Doc/Fest

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