Ben Powell and Harry Lee USA / 2018 / 86 minutes World Premiere
In Somali with subtitles
Times and Venues:
Upstate Films II RHINEBECK
Bearsville Theater WOODSTOCK
Q&A Attendees *subject to change: Ben Powell, Harry Lee, Jonathan, Abdisamad, Roda Mohamed
In a country emerging from the ashes of civil war, Abaarso School of Science and Technology offers Somali youth a stake in a better socioeconomic future by preparing them to attend college in the United States. Filmed with keen sensitivity by first-time directors Ben Powell and Harry Lee, Somaliland follows five hard-working, determined Abaarso students as they deal with the steep challenges ahead: learning English, navigating financial aid, enduring the heartbreak of rejection, and adjusting to an alien environment, all while grappling with young adulthood. Seeking to be the first from their impoverished nation to go to school in America, the financial stakes are high and the social pressures enormous, but luckily they're not alone. Staffed by a spirited team of American teachers, including co-director Lee, the Abaarso faculty offer practical guidance and emotional support, shaping them into independent thinkers with the intellectual ability and grit to make their dreams a reality. —Avery Davenport
BIO: Ben Powell is a filmmaker and cinematographer from Washington D.C. He owns and operates Powell Media Concepts, a small media production company primarily focused on corporate and commercial work. Powell hails from a musical background and always seeks to bring the artistic qualities, musical pacing and meaningful engagement from that discipline to all the projects he tackles.
Harry Lee was born in Kaduna, Nigeria, and has lived in five countries across three continents. He has a Master's in Education from Harvard University and Bachelor's degrees in Foreign Affairs and Psychology from the University of Virginia. He spent three years helping to build and lead Abaarso School in Somaliland and will soon return to the country to launch a new system of K-12 schools.
Executive Producer(s): Anand Desai, Blair Lee, Stephen Lee, Carolyn K. Dupuy, Bob Griendling, Karla Leavelle
Producer(s): Harry Lee, Kate Griendling
Director(s): Ben Powell and Harry Lee
Cinematographer(s): Ben Powell, Harry Lee, Kate Griendling, Hayat Mohamed
The Woodstock Film Festival is a not-for-profit, 501c3 organization with a mission to present an
annual program and year-round schedule of film, music,
and art-related activities that promote artists, culture,
inspired learning, and diversity. The Hudson Valley Film
Commission promotes sustainable economic development
by attracting and supporting film, video and media production.