The Gravedigger's Wife

Director Khadar Ayderus Ahmed / 2021 / Finland,France,Germany

A man’s devotion to his wife is put to the ultimate test in this rare cinematic venture into the Horn of Africa.

In the tiny north-east African country of Djibouti, 45-year-old Guled digs graves for a living to provide a meagre subsistence for his teenage son, Mahad, and chronically ill wife, Nasra. When Nasra needs an urgent kidney transplant, Guled has just a fortnight to raise the money required to pay for her operation – a substantial sum that will propel him to journey across the desert and confront his past.

The first known full-length film to be made in the Somali tongue, Somalian-Finnish director Khadar Ayderus Ahmed’s feature debut – which premiered at this year’s Cannes Critics’ Week – offers an insight into the lives of the impoverished labourers and homeless children who populate the outskirts of Djibouti City. Beyond its immediate story, The Gravedigger’s Wife also foregrounds the broader global realities of economic systems in which life-saving medical treatment is a privilege restricted to those lucky enough to afford it.

“A life-lesson whose poetic magnitude radiates like the sun. An ode to love, beauty and life.” – Cannes Critics’ Week artistic director Charles Tesson

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